Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB. France/USA, 1996. CiBy 2000, Screenplay by Robert Altman, Frank Barhydt. Cinematography by Oliver Stapleton. Produced by Robert Altman. Production Design by Stephen Altman. Costume Design by Dona Granata. Film Editing by Geraldine Peroni. Cannes Film Festival 1996. New York Film Critics Awards 1996.
Robert Altman falters somewhat in this story of jazz clubs and gangsters in Depression-era Kansas City, Oklahoma, but the film does have its worthy moments. Jennifer Jason Leigh (overdoing it as usual) plays a diehard Jean Harlow fan who kidnaps a wealthy politician’s wife (Miranda Richardson) in order to get the rich woman’s husband to help save her fiance (Dermot Mulroney) from a gangster (Harry Belafonte). Altman’s trademark, that of a large ensemble cast, is in evidence here, but the real pleasure to be gained from it is the many scenes inside Belafonte’s club, where some of the best jazz music scenes ever filmed are available to watch and enjoy. The rest is a so-so story that takes far too long to get to where it is so obviously going. Richardson, however, gives one of her most admirable performances to date.