There’s a dead white girl in middle of nowhere Texas.
That’s a trendy podcast tagline if there ever was one. Imagine who would narrate it — a soft-voiced, Ivy-educated, high brow comedic actor sounds about right. Like a BJ Novak.
Well, “Vengeance” satirizes exactly that. Novak stars in, writes and directs (in his feature debut) the film, which is about a New Yorker staff writer leaving the effete cocktail parties of Brooklyn intelligentsia for a conspiracy theory-laden, country music-crooning small town in Texas after he learns about the suspected murder of an ex fling. The excursion turns into a podcast project for the writer, which turns into a reflection on himself, the cultural differences between blue cities and red towns and how the former writes about the latter, and other examinations about media.
Novak stars alongside Boyd Holbrook, best known for playing the no nonsense DEA agent who took down Pablo Escobar in Netflix’s “Narcos.” In “Vengeance,” Holbrook plays the goofy, high-energy brother of the “dead white girl.”
Novak and Holbrook spoke to the Knockturnal about the film. Novak shares some of the Coen brothers films that informed his directorial debut, what it was like having NPR’s Terry Gross cameo, and how he handled the satire sensitively. Holbrook, having grown up in a small town, comments on the authenticity of the film’s depiction of rural life, talks about playing against type and working under a first time director.
“Vengeance” hit theaters July 29.