Film Review: LAROY, TEXAS (2023): Shane Atkinson’s Twisty Film Has Shades of FARGO and Offers Plenty of Surprises SuperNayr

Dylan Baker Laroy Texas

LaRoy, Texas Review

LaRoy, Texas (2023) Film Review, a movie written and directed by Shane Atkinson and starring John Magaro, Steve Zahn, Dylan Baker, Megan Stevenson, Galadriel Stineman, Matthew Del Negro, Emily Pendergast, Bob Clendenin, Brad Leland, Marion Birdsall, Brannon Cross, Darcy Shean, Versai Knight, Rio Alexander, Alex Knight, Ian A. Hudson, Brooks Hall and Vic Browder.

Shane Atkinson’s LaRoy, Texas is a masterfully acted thriller with plenty of genius plot twists sprinkled in throughout. For every smart story development, however, is a character in the film who is pretty annoying. Almost none of the characters in LaRoy, Texas are likable but that doesn’t mean they don’t feel authentic. Atkinson probably doesn’t want you to like his characters. Not relating to the characters won’t make one enjoy the film any less. By keeping one’s distance from the characters, one is more likely to be open to the development of the plot of LaRoy Texas. And, the story takes the viewer for a ride that is worth taking.

John Magaro is the star of LaRoy, Texas. Magaro plays a down-on-his-luck man named Ray who works a dead-end job and is hard up for cash to fuel his wife, Stacy-Lynn (Megan Stevenson)’s desire to open a beauty salon. The reality of the situation is that a detective, Skip (Steve Zahn in his best role in years), has photos of Stacy-Lynn entering a motel. She’s having an affair with Ray’s brother, Junior (Matthew Del Negro). When Stacy-Lynn gets dressed up to go out one night, she tells Ray she’s going to the movies but when she comes home late at night, Stacy-Lynn can’t remember the name of the movie she supposedly saw.

This film opens with a hit man, Harry (Dylan Baker) who picks up a man whose car has broken down. In a chilling sequence, Harry starts to tell the man that maybe he made it that the car broke down because maybe Harry was hired to kill this guy. Then, the man demands to be let out of the car immediately. This scene creates the intense character of Harry who is a major force in driving the plot of LaRoy, Texas.

Ray is a lost soul who wants to kill himself. He goes to buy a gun but when the guy behind the counter asks what type of gun Ray wants, he doesn’t know. The plot gets set into motion as Ray’s frustrations build and he takes out someone when a man gets into his car and gives Ray the opportunity to earn money and prove he’s not a wimp. The car containing the body is left to the side of the road with a picture of Stacy-Lynn which could lead the authorities to Ray or his wife.

The events of LaRoy, Texas become very complicated and are driven by several key character traits of Ray. Magaro creates this character with tremendous skill. Magaro played the husband who was the “other man” in Past Lives and, at the end of that film, he got the girl. In Atkinson’s picture, he’s not so lucky. Atkinson paints a vivid picture of desperation which Magaro carries out to perfection. Watch a scene where Ray asks for a raise at work. You can sense this is a man at the end of his ropes and, perhaps, the events of La, Roy Texas will bring Ray back to life and he may still have a shot at happiness.

Zahn is near-perfect as the voice of reason who, himself, has bad luck. In a hilarious scene, his car gets towed because Zahn’s character’s car was supposedly parked in a handicapped spot. Skip isn’t so excited at the prospect of paying over $200 to get his car back. Skip and Ray team up as the events of the picture take flight. Skip gets a girl in the end and viewers will laugh when they find out which girl it is who he will wind up with.

There are other supporting characters like Angie (Galadriel Stineman) who knows a lot about what’s going on within the film’s story line. Adam (Brad Leland) and Midge (Darcy Shean) LeDoux are also intriguing characters who come into play as the film shows a backstory of blackmail amidst a car dealership. Darcy Shean and Brad Leland steal the film when they’re on-screen with great turns. Stineman more than holds her own in this formidable ensemble. Dylan Baker is absolutely bone-chilling, though, as the killer who the audience will want to see get his just desserts.

LaRoy, Texas is the type of movie that the 1996 film Fargo was in terms of it creating flawed characters embroiled in a plot of intriguing complications. I wasn’t the biggest fan of Fargo but it’s deemed a masterpiece by many. La, Roy Texas is closer to that film in terms of overall quality than the brilliant Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri. However, Shane Atkinson is a filmmaker to watch. His attention to detail and his ability to portray ordinary characters in mundane situations is perfect. This film feels like an action picture at times in the latter stages and that may have been one mistake it makes. Some twists are thrown in willy-nilly and the film doesn’t leave much hope for Ray who audiences may end up sympathizing with, even if it’s just a little bit.

Still, LaRoy, Texas is sharp in its observations on small-town life and fascinating in its presentation of the shady dealings that could go on behind closed doors. This film is completely entertaining even if it’s not everything it could be. LaRoy, Texas puts Shane Atkinson on the map as a director who may one day make a masterpiece. He has made a really good film with LaRoy, Texas which could please fans of Fargo most of all.

Rating: 7.5/10

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