Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.5. USA, 1986. Religioso Primitiva. Screenplay by E. Max Frye. Cinematography by Tak Fujimoto. Produced by Jonathan Demme, Kenneth Utt. Music by Laurie Anderson, John Cale. Production Design by Norma Moriceau. Costume Design by Norma Moriceau. Film Editing by Craig McKay. Golden Globe Awards 1986.
One of Jonathan Demme’s best films is this delightfully mad caper starring Melanie Griffith in a brilliant, endearing performance. Jeff Daniels plays a straight-laced businessman who mistakenly accepts a ride from a sexy wild child (Griffith) that turns out to be an endless adventure. Instead of taking him home, Griffith takes him out of town, introduces him to her mother and then brings him to her high school reunion. There, they run into her insane ex-husband (Ray Liotta) who has just been released from prison and is determined to get his wife back. Things go from awkward to strange in no time, and it’s all thrilling to watch. Daniels and Griffith are terrific together, and Liotta steals the show, but it’s Demme’s love of all his characters that is most effective. His ability to make anyone sympathetic is one of the greatest accomplishments of his career, and probably the main reason why he has inspired many filmmakers after him.