Billy Bob's Bitter Burden
The Badge is a murder mystery. A woman running on a roadway in rural Mississippi causes an accident - a truck full of shoes goes into a ditch. In the recovery efforts, they find the woman in the ditch, only there are two unexpected facts: she is a male-to-female pre-op transsexual, and the ultimate cause of death was a bullet wound.
Our redneck sheriff, Darl (Billy Bob Thornton), takes on the case in his laidback, somewhat unorthodox way - which involves a fair amount of knocking around disrespectful people.
We eventually meet the transsexual's wife, Scarlett (Patricia Arquette), a stripper. She provides some clues. Darl finds some clues of his own which imply a local political connection. Darl gets pushed out of his job, and both his and Scarlett's lives are put in danger.
There's a lot of moments of filmic style sprinkled around the movie. These moments really call attention to themselves, though there's no clear reason to go through the effort. Some of it can be argued as reinforcing the mood, but there's no setup for it. Conventions either need to introduced early and clearly, or have been established broadly enough they are second nature. Really, these moments aren't bad individually, but they aren't unified within the film, so as an audience, we have our thoughts interrupted to wonder what the abrupt changes in style mean.
Character is treated pretty well here, but for the most part, there's not much we haven't seen before. The eventual resolution is fairly ironic and aesthetically pleasing, but doesn't underscore any real themes. Not a bad movie, but not one that is offering much either.
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