Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB. USA, 1979. Lion’s Gate Films. Story by Robert Altman, Patricia Resnick, Lionel Chetwynd, Screenplay by Frank Barhydt, Robert Altman, Patricia Resnick. Cinematography by Jean Boffety. Produced by Robert Altman. Music by Tom Pierson. Production Design by Leon Ericksen. Costume Design by Scott Bushnell. Film Editing by Dennis M. Hill.
Paul Newman heads an impressive cast with unimpressive results in this barely watchable science-fiction film by Robert Altman. It takes place in a devastated future Earth where the land is all covered by ice…shiny, glimmering ice that looks like the decorations on shopping mall Christmas trees. He and Brigitte Fossey roam the land looking for shelter and warmth and eventually find his brother, who much like the other remaining people on Earth enjoys a board game called Quintet. Things get hairy for Newman when he takes on the identity of a man he witnesses being murdered and ends up stumbling into a group of people who are playing Quintet for real, hunting each other down and fighting to the death. It’s a nifty premise, with the dazzling sets mostly filmed on the sites of the Montreal Expo which contribute much visual pizazz to the proceedings. The pace is too sluggish, though, and the film takes far too long to reveal its secrets, wearing out the viewer’s patience without entertaining them one bit.