Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5.
USA, 1989. Action Features. Screenplay by Hal Hartley. Cinematography by Michael Alan Spiller. Music by Jim Coleman. Production Design by Carla Gerona. Costume Design by Kelly Reichardt. Film Editing by Hal Hartley.
Robert John Burke gets out of prison and returns to his hometown, getting a job at a repair shop and looking up a woman connected to his past. His boss’s daughter (Adrienne Shelly) is a rebel without a cause, constantly arguing with her father about future plans for university while rejecting her boyfriend, her desire to achieve more in life sated by a modeling career that takes off and draws her to the city. Hal Hartley’s startling feature debut has these characters struggling within the claustrophobic confines of their boring town, a slowly unraveling plot that details the conflicts between highly charismatic figures and builds to a satisfying finale. The almost literary dialogue and intentionally over-the-top acting by a top-flight cast makes it feel like a 1930s gangster set in the indie revolution of the late eighties, but the earnest desire of all these people to achieve something is effective enough that it is never an awkward combination of styles.
Toronto International Film Festival: 1989