Petty Cash review

This is a cash-on-the-run movie where a number of shady characters in need of a large sum of money battle it out to capture over $20,000 inside a plastic bag. Two brothers mixed up in the underworld, one with a $30,000 debt to a mob boss and the other with the intention of running away from his life of crime with the woman he loves and almost $100,000, clash over the money, while everyone from meth addicts to prostitutes each have their eyes on the prize. Cue plenty of profanity-ridden outbursts, stare downs, loaded handguns and blood. Yes, it's a plot we've seen before, but how it unravels in Petty Cash is not formulaic in the least and always entertaining. The ways in which the cash is snatched to-and-fro between the various criminals adds consistently exciting developments to the story.

Writer-director-editor Bigley makes good use of the obviously low budget, focusing attention on the dialogue and interaction between the characters instead of typically generic fire-fights and action. That's not to say that the film doesn't have its fair share of gun battles, but they take second place to the characterisation.

Bigley and co have done a great job with the casting, bringing in a formidable team of actors which is not always easy to do when you're making an independent film on very little money. How he even managed to bring in Bai Ling is a mystery since she's been working the higher budget independent films as of late. Both the leading and most of the supporting members of the cast do a fine job indeed, with some fantastic actors like Tom Lodewyck shining, doing a stellar job as always.

Shot in Bigley's home state of Wisconsin and featuring a crop of local talent, Petty Cash is a gritty crime drama that remains enjoyable from the first frame to the last. It's competently shot and well written and its only major shortcoming is the occasionally substandard performances and dodgy bullet effects, but they are to be forgiven in such a small film. A solid indie crime caper.

Official Site
Petty Cash at IMDb

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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