It seems so easy. You learn you bear a strong resemblance to someone who has just inherited a boatload of money. Realizing nobody but the dead person has ever met you, you decide to claim the inheritance yourself. See. Easy.
Such is the premise of the new thriller “Rushlights,” the sophomore directorial effort of Antoni Stutz, who has also added “co-writer” to his resume’. Billy (Henderson) and Sarah (Haley Webb) meet cute. She’s a waitress at a diner he frequents. After constant hours of flirting Billy gets up the nerve to ask Sarah out. Fireworks ensue. Sarah is burdened by a drug addicted roommate who, sadly meets a sad demise. While going through her things Sarah finds a letter from a lawyer in Texas explaining that the roommate’s uncle, who she hadn’t seen in decades, has passed away and left you everything. Commenting that Sarah and her roomie could pass for twins Billy convinces her to head to Texas with the dead girls ID, claim the inheritance for herself and then she and Billy can split town before anyone becomes the wiser. But when you’re not the sharpest (or, for lack of a better word, most scrupulous) knife in the drawer you’re bound to run into problems.
Based on a true story, “Rushlights” could have been a very standard, by the book imitation noir film. Instead, Stutz packs it with genuine surprises and emotion. He is helped out by a strong cast, led by Henderson and Webb. Aidan Quinn shows up as the deceased man’s lawyer while Beau Bridges tries to solve the mysteries as the local sheriff. Bridges character is also brother to Quinn’s lawyer, meaning these two will turn out to be as corrupt as you’ve ever seen a legal representative. But top marks go to Crispian Belfrage, so creepy as a man with ties to both Sarah and her dead friend.
Stutz’s direction is clear and sharp, taking the audience into Billy and Sarah’s lives, showing that everything is not always greener on the richer side of the fence.