Review of Timothy L. Anderson’s Two Hundred Thousand Dirty

LoopDiLoop Productions are on the point of releasing a piquant new film directed and written by Timothy L. Anderson: Two Hundred Thousand Dirty. As Anderson’s first feature, it’s a very promising debut indeed. The film is both highly entertaining and artistically cut, making it one of the choicest dark comedies of recent times.

The film’s opening sequence is masterfully shot, skillfully toying with delayed information by using disjunctions between sound and image, limitative framing and situational blurring. In a mercilessly hilarious moment, Rob discovers that his long-standing girlfriend has been engaging in eccentric sexual encounters behind his back.

The film centers on a suburban strip mall in the forgotten outskirts of Las Vegas. Rob, Manny and Martin are employed to sell mattresses. The only problem is there are no customers and the employees’ listlessness lies like a thick coat of dust in the deserted store. Anderson has a way of filming boredom that makes it irresistibly interesting and funny. Interaction between the peevish manager Preston and his hapless employees is delightfully tense, sparking with stored up frustration and ennui.

While Rob embodies the worn out romantic turned cynic, rendered almost speechless with disappointment at the absurdity of life in an empty, futureless store, Manny is still full of illusions about becoming a lawyer. With his hairstyle looking like a few weeds left sprouting tall after the lawn has been mown, he is about as close to becoming a lawyer as Rob is of living it up in the lap of luxury with a loving, faithful girlfriend.

Martin looks as if he has about one thought an hour. He’s a weed-smoking, uniformed, hippy who takes everything in his extremely slow stride. His verdict on the outcome of the story is that it has a moral in it, “like fucked-up Aesop”. His detached commentary makes him feature as a one-man Droopy Greek chorus.

On the verge of imploding with boredom and irritability, Preston decides to hire a woman, hoping it will attract customers and generate a little energy in his testosterone-deficient workers. Shortly afterwards, a gorgeous Argentine woman called Isabelle crops up, seemingly out of nowhere. She is everything the men are not: she is cheerful, buoyant, pretty and charming.

Manny thinks she won’t stay more than two days. But things take an unexpected turn, changing the rhythm and atmosphere in a decidedly rigorous manner. One would have been happy to continue listening to another hour of comical conversation, but the generic turn into crime is gleefully engrossing.

Isabelle turns out to be less of an angel than she seems, asking her fellow-employees to dispatch her cumbersome, vengeful husband in exchange for a part of the $200,000 in life insurance. Much of the humour here comes from the fact that the employees go about getting rid of the husband the way they go about their chores, with about as much drive as when they’re waiting for customers.

Anderson manages the twist ending well and his characters and dialogue are impeccably rendered. His ability to film static characters in a stalemate situation suggests he could make anything feel vitally interesting. He’s definitely a director to look out for in the future.

Erik Martiny

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1. Timothy L. Anderson’s Two Hundred Thousand Dirty trailer.

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