Take a bunch of people with questionable morals (or preferably no morals at all), toss them in an isolated spot, add a sprinkle of stolen cash, and wait to see who gets stabbed in the back (or shot, or strangled ... you get the idea): It's a classic film noir setup and one that director Oren Shai employs for his first feature, "The Frontier," a confident, Coen-esque debut about a couple of fateful days at a shabby Arizona motel. Our heroine is Laine (Jocelin Donahue), who arrives at The Frontier with someone else's money clip and choke marks on her neck, the latter of which inspires the steely proprietress Luanne (Kelly Lynch, we missed you!) to offer her a job. It's not long before more odd ducks show up at The Frontier, and it's not a coincidence.
"The Frontier" is populated by a recognizable cast of character actors, including the guy who married the Widow Garrett on "Deadwood" (Jim Beaver) and the guy who played Tom Hanks' kid in "The Road to Perdition" (Liam Aiken). And though not everything works -- the performances are occasionally stiff and the dialogue seems forced at times -- Lynch turns in a solid performance, and Donahue anchors the film as the quick-thinking Laine. She has a face made for movies, as though she just wandered out of a Truffaut flick, and that fascinatingly anachronistic vibe extends across the entire film.