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A brilliant satire about the obsession with Deep State conspiracies becomes a wider exploration of the divisions within US society.
Ben Manalowitz (B.J. Novak, the film’s writer-director, and American The Office alumnus) is a writer for the New Yorker who finds himself at the funeral of his ex-girlfriend Abeline (Lio Tipton). Actually, she was just a few one-night stands for him. But that’s not what her family thinks. Moreover, her older brother Ty (Boyd Holbrook) believes she was murdered and wants Ben to team up with him to seek revenge. Instead, Ben agrees to investigate, convinced that there’s a podcast to be made, not out of the murder investigation, but the people who see Abeline’s death as anything but natural.
Novak’s skill lies in levelling the playing field. East coast liberal elitism is skewered first, before Ben reaches Texas. And when he finally does get there, Novak makes sure that Ben is as much a figure of ridicule as the people he wants to write about. It’s an impressive tightrope act and Novak pulls it off, not only creating one of the few convincing cinematic barometers of where the US is currently at, but also delivering a satire that continues in the tradition of Billy Wilder’s Ace in the Hole, Sidney Lumet’s Network and Tim Robbin’s Bob Roberts.