Tonight’s “Monday Night Special” edition of the Thom Powers and Raphaela Neihausen hosted Stranger Than Fiction series at the IFC Center features one of the most dizzyingly profound films of recent memory. Darius Marder’s Loot isn’t just proof that truth is stranger than fiction; in this case, it is infinitely richer than the very best of fiction. Marder turns his camera on Lance, a hustler-and-bustler who is always after a big score. When he hears about two separate World War II veterans, Darrel and Andrew, who have information that might lead to actual pots of gold at the end of the rainbow, he sees this as his ticket to glory. Unfortunately, Lance’s literal excavation sparks an emotional excavation into both Darrel and Andrew’s troubled pasts, which turns out to provide a haunting parallel with Lance’s own family situation.
Thinking about Loot too deeply makes one’s head spin, for it doesn’t seem possible that one filmmaker could happen upon a story so profoundly layered. Loot has the emotional gravity of Steinbeck and the narrative flair of the Coen Brothers, yet it is anything but fiction. It is a film that devastates on a multitude of levels, and is best experienced with as little pre-viewing knowledge as possible. As there is no impending DVD release on the calendar, be sure not to miss it tonight if you are in NYC. I will give this screening my own personal money back guarantee.
— Michael Tully