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Review: BUSTER'S MAL HEART (2017) 'Rami Malek is perfect for sci-fi thriller'

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Joseph Friar

By Joseph Friar
May 16, 2017 at 1:40 p.m.



BUSTER’S MAL HEART (2017)

Rami Malek, DJ Qualls, Kate Lyn Sheil, Sukha Belle Potter, Toby Huss, Lin Shaye, Mark Kelly, Bruce Bundy, Teresa Yenque, Sandra Ellis Lafferty, Nicholas Pryor

Directed by Sarah Adina Smith 

Like Terry Gilliam’s 12 Monkeys, Sarah Adina Smith’s sophomore effort is a transcendent piece of science fiction set in the 90’s.  Rami Malek (Mr. Robot) is perfectly cast in two roles that range from a derelict mountain man to a concierge at a remote wilderness hotel whose timelines intersect just as the world prepares for the impending threat of the millennium bug known as Y2K. 

Jonah (Malek) is a family man who teaches his infant daughter Spanish at the disapproval of his religious mother-in-law played by the wonderful Lin Shaye (Insidious).  Working the graveyard shift at a mountainside resort keeps Jonah away from his family so the boss grants him a staycation, he continues to work while his wife Marty (Kate Lyn Sheil) and daughter get to stay in the hotel so they can spend some time together. 

A mysterious stranger (DJ Qualls) shows up one night warning Jonah about the upcoming Y2K threat and something known as “the great inversion,” for all we know he could be related to the logic-dispensing Miller (Tracey Walter) from 1984’s sci-fi comedy “Repo Man.”  At first Jonah is intrigued by the stranger who eventually wears out his welcome. 

The second timeline involves Malek as a scraggly bearded mountain man who’s been nicknamed Buster by the local authorities because of his penchant to break into unoccupied vacation homes.  He also enjoys calling in to local radio shows to rant about the end of the world and Y2K.  Later in the film we witness Buster or Jonah adrift at sea staring at the night sky while questioning the presence of God.  How did he get here?   There’s a lot of reflective material that benefits from the dark isolation of a movie theater. The less distractions the better in order for the film to completely absorb the viewer.  

Fans of “Mr. Robot” will enjoy Malek’s performance and anyone who loves a good sci-fi mystery should embrace this great looking film.   Sarah Adina Smith’s debut feature “The Midnight Swim” like “Buster’s Mal Heart” was mysterious and enchanting and both should be required viewing for sci-fi sleuths ready to solve a mystery.  Good luck. 

(3 stars) 

Now playing at Alamo Drafthouse Mason Park (Houston) and Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar (Austin)      

 

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