Writer-director-actor Miles Doleac’s sprawling Southern-fried mystery “The Hollow” has the rich characters and milieu of a good literary novel, but never quite works as a movie. While the dialogue is colorful and the acting strong, this is ultimately a 90-minute neo-noir stretched unnecessarily past two hours.
Doleac stars as Ray Everett, a small-town Mississippi deputy who helps manage the local criminal enterprises under orders from an aristocratic kingpin played by William Forsythe, with the tacit approval of the sheriff (William Sadler). When a congressman’s daughter is murdered, two FBI agents (James Callis and Christian Seidel) arrive and threaten to put everyone out of business.
The passive-aggressive tussles between two law-enforcement agencies are the best part of “The Hollow.” Mississippian Doleac understands the dynamics, language and religious convictions of the South — and how two D.C. outsiders would react to the regional peculiarities.
But the plot plods along too slowly, parceled out in one-on-one conversations where characters talk at length about pieces of their pasts that aren’t really germane to the story — and aren’t interesting enough in and of themselves to merit the digressions. The original capital crime and its political ramifications get lost in the process.
Give Doleac credit for having the intelligence and ambition to make “The Hollow” more than just another sensationalistic potboiler filled with sex, drugs and violence. But a film this sordid shouldn’t be so tedious.
Running time: 2 hours, 8 minutes
Playing: Monica Film Center, Santa Monica