Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5.
USA, 1996. Columbia Pictures Corporation, Castle Rock Entertainment, Rio Dulce. Screenplay by John Sayles. Cinematography by Stuart Dryburgh. Produced by R. Paul Miller, Maggie Renzi. Music by Mason Daring. Production Design by Dan Bishop. Costume Design by Shay Cunliffe. Film Editing by John Sayles. Academy Awards 1996. Golden Globe Awards 1996. Independent Spirit Awards 1996. National Board of Review Awards 1996.
John Sayles’ writing in this fascinating drama wanders a bit too much for its own good, but his storytelling and character depth is still better than most filmmakers around. Chris Cooper gives an excellent performance as a Texan sherriff who uncovers a years-old mystery involving his late father (played in flashback by Matthew McConaughey), an incident that undermines his father’s stature as a respected and beloved citizen. Elizabeth Peña has her best role yet as Cooper’s longtime lover, who has been forced to meet him secretly because her Mexican mother (Miriam Colon) refuses to accept their relationship. Revelations of family secrets mix in with the dramatic conflicts going on with many other characters, and despite the fact that many of the plot lines exist with no resolution, it is still so impressive how seamlessly the auteur has weaved the whole story together. Look for a brilliant cameo by Frances McDormand.