Buster’s Mal Heart
In the first few minutes of the film, we watch Rami Malek (“Mr. Robot”) running across a snow-covered landscape, chased into a cave by armed authorities. This fellow on the lam is Buster, a reclusive mountain man who has become somewhat of an urban myth while evading the law for many years.
We then go back ten days to watch a far more haggard Buster—a less recognizable Malek with long hair and beard, looking more like a member of grunge band Soundgarden—as he’s settling into one of the abandoned vacation homes he uses for shelter. We also see Buster in a similar state sitting in a boat in the middle of a body of water, clearly starving. We’ll get back to that.
We then witness another version of this man as he works the night shift at a desolate motel in the middle of nowhere. This is Jonah, a family man with a beautiful wife (Kate Lyn Sheil) and an adorable young daughter (Sukha Belle Potter). Money is tight, and Jonah needs to put up with the late-night hours and his annoying boss, although he’d much rather spend time with his family. One night, a mysterious man, played by DJ Qualls, shows up at the motel looking for a place to crash. The two of them start plotting a way to make money by robbing the motel’s other tenants, even though it’s obvious Jonah can’t trust him.
WHAT’S THE GENRE?
Grim psychological thriller crossed with dark indie comedy, wrapped in arthouse speculative fiction.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
In one of three tenuously connected parallel storylines, a mountain man named Buster (Malek) survives by breaking into empty vacation homes while ranting about Y2K to radio shows and phone-sex operators.
Release date: April 28, 2017 (USA)
Buster’s Mal Heart, Reviews
Full Review… Edward Douglas. Film Journal International. Buster’s Mal Heart is magical realist and arthouse conventional in a lot of ways, but it …
A genuinely noteworthy picture that deserves an audience.
A version of this review appears in print on April 28, 2017, on Page C9 of the New York edition with the headline: Buster’s Mal Heart.
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