At the beginning of the novel The Road, Cormac McCarthy writes, “Nights dark beyond darkness and days more gray each one than what had gone before.” David M. Rosenthal’s A Single Shot is spectacularly gray – a gorgeously shot moody hue of a sky, replete with a breathtaking, overhanging mist set against the pines – that pretty much conveys the mindset of its protagonist John Moon (Sam Rockwell, unrecognizable as a bearded, back-to-the-land type) whose life is on a downward spiral.
John has good reason to have gone into somber mode. His estranged wife (Kelly Reilly) wants a divorce – having had a child has made her eager to find a better provider – and John wants them both back. And quickly into the film, he just may have found a solution.
While hunting game, he accidentally kills a young woman who has been camping in the desolate and garbage-dump area near the rundown domicile John calls home. He hides her body inside a container and rummages through her tent, finding a lock box full of large bills in the process. Suddenly those gray skies bespeak his ethical nebulousness, as he takes off with the stash and heads to an attorney (William H. Macy) – he’s now got a down payment – to stop divorce proceedings.
It doesn’t take long for John to experience being a marked man, and he tries to figure out – while holding on to the loot – which person in his circle (supporting actors include Jeffrey Wright, Ted Levine and Jason Isaacs) has acted as the information conduit bringing the threat of death to his doorstep.
Archetypal Pluto, representing riches and control, acts true to its nature here. Once stealing off with the cash, John, an otherwise decent man who thinks he can shortchange the gods, realizes he no longer has power over his own life.
Astrology Film Review: ♇ (Pluto)