CREDIT: A24

Starring: Michael Abbott Jr., Virginia Newcomb, Andre Hyland, Sarah Baker, Jess Weixler, Roy Wood Jr., Sunita Mani, Poppy Cunningham, Janelle Cochrane

Director: Daniel Scheinert

Running Time: 100 Minutes

Rating: R for Casual Cussing and Discussions of an Unusual Medical Accident

Release Date: September 27, 2019 (Limited)

The Death of Dick Long is a lot like director Daniel Scheinert’s last film, Swiss Army Man (which he co-directed with Daniel Kwan), which famously starred Daniel Radcliffe as a farting corpse. Dick Long is similarly interested in the prurient nature of life as a human being on Earth. But I can’t tell you any more than that. Not because the people who worked on the film or the studio reps at A24 asked me not to. They didn’t have to. What starts as a Coens-esque dark comedy about a couple of bumbling fools who have no idea how to clean up a bloody, possibly criminal mess evolves into a meditation about how everyone always deserves to be treated like a human being, no matter how abnormal their predilections are.

Dick Long is indeed dead. He’s dead almost from the get-go. That’s not the part that needs to be kept secret. The wretched state that his buddies Zeke (Michael Abbott Jr.) and Earl (Andre Hyland, who comes across like a redneck Mikey Day) leave him in at the hospital after a wild night together suggests that foul play was involved. But Zeke’s efforts to not upset anyone and Earl’s generally blasé attitude suggest that someone else, or something else, may have been responsible for Dick’s demise.

Most of the film consists of Zeke’s wife (Virginia Newcomb), Dick’s wife (Jess Weixler), and a couple of police detectives (Sarah Baker and Janelle Cochrane) doggedly attempting to suss out exactly what happened. They eventually uncover a whole lot more than any of them or any of us bargained for, and this revelation could easily lead to a hail of gross-out humor or condemnation. But instead, the whole affair concludes on a note of “People sure are inscrutable on their insides.” It’s altogether stunning how little The Death of Dick Long grossed me out and how much I found it moving. The magic of cinematic empathy extends far and low.

The Death of Dick Long is Recommended If You Like: Swiss Army Man, Fargo, Raising Arizona, Unexpectedly deep humanism

Grade: 4 out of 5 Car Seat Blood Stains

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