The Quarry starts somberly with David (Bruno Bichir) driving alone in a van. He is drinking what appears to be wine as he coasts along a mostly empty highway. He notices a person sprawled out on the side of the road and stops to check on them. The man (Shea Whigham) is nearly dead and in need of food and water. It’s not long that David attempts to inquire about the man’s past which leads to an altercation, and the man taking up David’s role as a new minister in a small town.
Whigham really is great in this film as he attempts to come to terms with his reality. He’s a murderer on the run from the police posing as a priest. He begins to earn the respect of his parishioners and seems to take on much of the task of building up his small church. However, it is hard to escape the past, and the body he left in the quarry seeks to expose the truth of his identity.
The ever-amazing Michael Shannon plays police Chief Moore, who gets pulled into “David’s” world after all of his belongings are stolen. The area that the church is in and Whigham finds himself staying isn’t aren’t the best, and there are a number of racial tensions between the white police chief and the mostly Hispanic population. Celia (Catalina Sandino Moreno), the woman who is housing “David” and casually dating Moore, is related to the local drug dealer, Valentin (Bobby Soto), who is the lead suspect in the van’s break-in. All of these details get intertwined even further when the bloodied shirt in the back of the van is found at Valentin’s, and the body in the quarry leads to the conclusion of murder.
The film is quietly engaging, making the viewer ponder questions of guilt and redemption. Yet, the ending of the film – which I’ll not comment on specifically to avoid spoilers – left me curious as to what exactly I was supposed to feel about several of the characters. Maybe that’s the intention of the film, is to make us ponder the ambiguity of good and evil. Life is rarely black and white, and this film paints its characters with several shades of gray. Celia, casually sleeping around with the police chief while judging Valentin and his impact on their younger relative. Chief Moore, who uses questionable and often illegal tactics to get to the bottom of his cases and who definitely has some racist tendencies. Our lead character, who is a murderer that is clearly eaten up by guilt, but is also so determined to not go to jail that he refuses to come clean. No one is purely evil, nor are they good.
Overall, The Quarry is a decent film that has some very good performances. It’s not a film that you need to rush out and see, and it could easily be missed. I don’t think all of the ideas really come together in a way that made sense to me, and the ending definitely didn’t feel very cathartic. The Quarry earns the Decent Watch rating.