Director: Hank Bedford
Hank Bedford has been a part of the crew for some pretty excellent films. He was an assistant to the director for The Fighter, Out of the Furnace, and Foxcatcher, thought Dixieland marks his own directorial debut. He also wrote the screenplay and is from the South himself, so at least he’s following that old chestnut; write what you know. Though, hopefully, he doesn’t know this exact story, because it isn’t pretty. Dixieland is a peek into a world most of us do not & never want to know, a life of poverty & crime that seems to have no exit. That much the film gets right, transporting us into the boondocks and showing us the rough that’s driven there every day. Otherwise, and as a film, most everything fails, establishing a good try but a fairly wide miss.
This is the story of a boy named Kermit, as odd as that sounds, and the state in which he lives & represents; Mississippi. Kermit is a troubled young man, living in a trailer park, running drugs for his friends, beating up his mother’s suitors, and ultimately landing himself in prison. When he gets out, he vows to keep away from that old life, that old crowd, swearing to his mom that he’s changed. And perhaps he has, but a beautiful girl, a literal girl-next-door, needs his help, and Kermit is fixing to give it. After all, in Pearl, Mississippi, what else is there to do but go to the strip club, go deliver drugs, and go lounge in the woods? So Kermit makes money the only way he knows how, continuing a cycle that really never ended.
I can see some promise here from Hank Bedford, and perhaps his films down the road a few years will be the complete packages that Dixieland failed to be. There were some definite positives; real interviews of people from the town lent credibility to the story, honest portrayals of the characters made it seem like we really were in the deep South, a glimmer of fine direction & cinematography made the movie at least enjoyable to view. And the acting was …OK …never standing out as special, but then what can you expect from a no name guy, the daughter of Lisa Marie Presley, and an aging country singer? They weren’t a strong cast, but at least helped their setting seem believable. The main problem came from the film’s failure to mix the reality of the background with the melodrama of the plot, making the story look quite fake by comparison, making event choices abruptly and seemingly without reason. An average love story set in an interesting place, Dixieland comes across as choppy & a bit amateur; better luck next time.
My rating: ☆ ☆