Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5
USA, 1985. Pfeiffer/Blocker Production, Embassy Home Entertainment. Screenplay by Alan Rudolph. Cinematography by Toyomichi Kurita. Produced by David Blocker, Carolyn Pfeiffer. Music by Mark Isham. Production Design by Steven Legler. Costume Design by Tracy Tynan. Film Editing by Tom Walls.
Alan Rudolph plays freely with genre in this romantic fantasy that has as many dark as light notes. In a fictional place with a retrofuturistic look called Rain City, Kris Kristofferson plays a cop who has just been released from prison for having committed murder years earlier. He goes in search of a former lover, a diner waitress (Genevieve Bujold) who insists they just be friends (after he more or less forces himself on her), which is fortunate because lowlife tough guy Keith Carradine has just swept into town with his naïve girlfriend (Lori Singer) and their newborn baby, and Kristofferson is immediately taken with the angelic blond. Carradine wants to make money and falls in with criminals who work for a gang lord (Divine in one of his few non-drag performances), turning more violent and dangerous and driving the desperate Singer further into the arms of the man who is captivated with her. The look of the film is beautifully achieved, Rudolph films Seattle exteriors to look like an Alphaville-esque science-fiction landscape with minimal efforts in lighting and set design (the same year, Gilliam’s garish Brazil would overdo a similar style), while a number of interiors display an ultra-eighties style of futurism common in films of the era that lends charm to the experience. As often is the case with many of the director’s films, though, he has created striking visuals and rich characters (inhabited by superb actors) and has arranged them around a hollow centre; it’s hard to know exactly what Kristofferson’s trajectory is other than the happenstance that falls in his path, he’s set up as the film’s lead but his participation is incidental and his lack of chemistry with Singer doesn’t help excuse the fact that we don’t really know, aside from the fact that she’s very pretty, why he is so deeply set on her. Very few of the characters are clear about what they want or what they plan to do, so that the experience gets quite tiresome by the time we reach the violent climax.
Berlin Film Festival: In Competition