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Double Down South

“Double Down South” is a smart, surprising dramatic thriller that succeeds in large part thanks to the charisma of its captivating leads.

Double Down South bleeds Americana, written and directed by academy winner Tom Schulman (Dead Poets Society, Honey I Shrunk The Kids). With a stellar cast, it whips up a recipe for success.

In the Deep South, flyers are spread around, all leading to Nick’s (Kim Coates) place, where illegal gambling brings people from all around America together. The high stakes and the risk of losing one’s ego drive those to violence, misogyny, and racism. Double Down South proves to be a thrilling sports film with a lot of heart at its core.

These flyers find their way to our headstrong protagonist, Diana (Lili Simmons), who mysteriously appears at Nick’s rundown plantation house, intending to win big. What starts out as a simple game of pool turns into an illegal game of Keno.

Once Nick learns of her talent, he sets out to turn her into an attraction for men to compete against her.

This turns into a bunch of pervy men drooling over her and sexualizing her, which, of course, she initially freaks out over. But I relished watching her come into her own, owning her strength and putting these awful men in their places.

Kim Coates (Sons Of Anarchy, Resident Evil: Afterlife) as Nick runs the place with captivating energy, making him a terrifying tyrant.

It does, however, take time for the full scope of his character to be revealed.

His many violent attempts to get Diana to sleep with him don’t bode well for his character. He is the head of the hierarchy, but nobody wants to be ruled by him. At first, he’s just slimy, and it’s not easy to figure out why he’s so off-putting. Once all is revealed, you look at him in a completely different light.

Coates’ performance makes this film so much more thrilling.

His excellent co-star Lili Simmons matches his energy, playing a charming, quick-witted, and hot-headed character that turns the tables in this drama.

My only critique is that the pacing lagged at times, making the film feel a tad long. However, once it picked up, the drama was certainly amped up.

For a genre that’s not something I reach for I have to give it to Double Down South for keeping my attention. I think if not for the strong performance the story would have fallen flat and maybe a bit boring at times.

I recommend giving this a try, even if it doesn’t seem like the kind of film you normally gravitate toward. If you find the start slow, stick with it. It really ramps up and has a great ending. It’s also fun to put the pieces of the puzzle together along the way.

By the end of the film, you’ll be shaking your head in disbelief at how much these characters and this compelling story fooled you. 

Overall Rating (Out of 5 Butterflies): 3.5

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