East Coast Premiere

2019 • USA • 87 min.

Director: Richard Bates, Jr.
Screenwriter: Richard Bates, Jr.
Cast: Robert Patrick, Amanda Crew, Kim Delaney, Ray Wise, Annalynne McCord

March 22, 2019 @ 7:15 pm

Brattle Theatre

In a cultural flame war waged by fatalistic millennials and disassociated old codgers, all reasoned discourse gets incinerated. Their clashes are propelled by futile social media arguments, and condemning clickbait “hot takes”, hurling insults across a vast generational chasm. Tone-Deaf thrusts the most extreme representations onto a cinematic front line, where hate-fueled foes throw down for our twisted amusement.

Olive (Amanda Crew) is so over her effed up life. She just broke up with her boyfriend (it’s complicated), and was fired from her job (lame). To escape, she rents a secluded country home for the weekend from Harvey (Robert Patrick), the property’s brusque landlord. When the sardonic twenty-something agitates the sadistic impulses of the crotchety widower, Olive’s mini vacay descends into a nightmarish tangle with a misogynistic psychopath pining for the “good old days”.

Tone-Deaf‘s caricatured avatars stir up delirious satire, with its stars Crew (Silicon Valley) and Patrick (The Faculty) primed to explode. These adversaries embody their respective generations’ worst characteristics, two sides of the same stubborn, self-absorbed coin. The film’s ensuing bloodbath is loaded with scathing social commentary, searing wit, and shocking what-the-fuckery. It’s a battle of the sexes delivered with an over-dramatic eye-roll, and the sensitivity of a hammer to the face.

Tone-Deaf marks the return of electrifying auteur Richard Bates Jr, who dazzled us with his ferocious debut Excision (2012), and blistering BUFF audience award-winner Trash Fire (2016). His latest is a departure from his calculated, emotionally-draining prior work; with Tone-Deaf, Bates goes over-the-top with a bleakly hilarious allegory, lampooning our delusional society in the age of Trump, and inciting us to burn it all down.

– Chris Hallock