In the financially devastated mining town of Cold Rock, WA a community is plagued by the disappearance of numerous children, seemingly by the hands of a dark, mythical figure known as the Tall Man. As the town desperately tries to figure out where their kids have been taken to, a mother does whatever's in her power to get her missing son back, all the while unwittingly unraveling the truth behind the missing children, the Tall Man and an unexpected motivation that will throw a wrench into viewer's expectations.
Directed by French filmmaker Pascal Laugier, The Tall Man is a film that has sparked a small amount of debate from a number of people who have sat down to watch it. Naturally, The Tall Man hasn't called for the intense "discussion" that came with Laugier's previous film, 2008's Martyrs, for reasons that are obvious to anyone who has seen that film (and if you haven't, then please do). Regardless, before seeing The Tall Man for myself, I had read various opinions that ranged from people who either love or hate it, or others who really like the first half but disliked the second half and vice versa.
Since The Tall Man is filled with numerous unexpected occurrences (that's fancy talk for twists), I will keep this brief and say outright that I'm very happy that Laugier has been able to craft yet another film that is far from conventional. Naturally, as I've mentioned, this one has gotten pretty mixed reviews, but there's certainly no denying that The Tall Man provokes a certain level of thought. The direction that the film goes in is basically impossible to predict, and I felt like I was never sure where the narrative could be going because it never once went where I thought it would.
If there's a major theme strewn throughout The Tall Man, it is neglect. The neglect of children; the neglect of a town's communal, financial and physical structure; the neglect for one's own wellbeing and the wellbeing of those around them. This theme of neglect is given time to flourish as the unpredictably captivating story plays out, but it is only in the end that it's truly brought to the forefront, making everything that has come before it seem all the more clear.
Jessica Biel gives a very strong performance that grows deeper and more impressive as the film moves towards its unexpected, and possibly alienating to some, climax. It's her character that I believe shows Laugier has a thing for writing complicated female characters who are much deeper than they initially appear to be. Something else the director seems to be keen on is making a pretty gorgeous looking movie. Like Martyrs, The Tall Man is a finely crafted piece of cinema with a visual style that becomes increasingly more appealing as the story progresses towards its climax.
Being a huge fan of Martyrs, I'm not disappointing in The Tall Man, mostly because I knew there was really no possible way Laugier could do something quite like that again. Regardless, I do think he has brought something very interesting to the table with a film that will not only catch you off guard but will make you put your thinking cap on real tight. And for me, the mark of a strong film comes from the thought it commands from me afterwards, and with The Tall Man, my thoughts led me to enjoy the movie infinitely more than if I had simply shrugged it off and moved on with my day.