Darren Carver-Balsiger’s review published on Letterboxd:
Life through the seasons. The Small Town depicts a dying world, almost. The grainy black and white feels apocalyptic and ominous, like time is running out. It is badly dubbed and paced, yet these flaws only push forward the stark visual poetry of the dirt presented. Moments here flutter across time, spread out over a year. Specks of snow on a window. Water dripping off leaves. A feather floating in the air. An old man smokes, indulging a small pleasure in a cold world. Plums grow in a cemetary in the spring. Corn is heated by a fire. Flies settle around the black eyes of a donkey. The Small Town drifts through the world, capturing the infinite scope that exists in any small part of life.
The Small Town has its areas of focus. One is man's place amongst nature. This is a rural film, and man's precarious relationship with our environment hangs over the poetic visuals. Animals live in pain here. Stray dogs wander the streets, goats are killed en masse, a tortoise is made to die a slow death, one needless choice in a world of needless choices. This is a world of pain, where animal lives are subservient to human suffering. This new world has pesticides, driving away the natural.
The Small Town has a focus on fires and fireside stories. The film descends into many long conversations, which in a sense takes away from the earlier moments of visual poetry. Yet these discussions on war and other difficulties showcase pain across the generations. This is a small town of petty people, trapped by their own insular lives. They are happy to live through pain, through aching joints and the struggles of old age. Whether this is tragic or humbling is a little unclear, and that nuance is what makes The Small Town a beautifully executed work of art.