Film Micrœview #91: Lone Star (1996)

06.24.2014 § Leave a comment

Lone Star

Rating: Good.

This was my first John Sayles film.

At best, I got a Lynchian vibe — Cooper’s character probing the dark depths of a small American town. This was underscored by the layered shot of Cooper with the desert road he’s driving along — extremely Lost Highway, though this precedes it by one year — perhaps the influence flows the other way.

At worst, I felt the film lacked subtlety. When an earlier scene ended with a character making a remark about the nature of fishing which was obviously meant as a comment on Cooper’s hunt, I was like, “Okay.” But when later the same structure was repeated when a salesman made a comment about a snake he’d felt forced to kill out of fright, I was like, “…Really?” Much of the racial and national tensions were dealt with not in an unenlightened way (read: Crash) but in a way in which I’m not convinced the film is doing anyone any good.

What kept me going was the beauty of the recurring technique of interweaving the past and present: the camera pans and without any cross-fading or anything we’ve invisibly, instantly traveled in time. When this first happened I thought “Oh, look what they did there.” But this thing, as it kept happening over and over, only got better. I appreciate how this accomplishes the “this town never changes” idea in about as purely filmically way as possible. And often the trick was engaging enough in and of its own execution or composition.

Finally, the acting was great. I guess I felt there was some weird tension between the roomy, slow-paced naturalism and the cheesy didacticism of some of the set-ups, but the performances were always enjoyable nonetheless.

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