Limbo (1999) Movie Review

Hurt. Used. Betrayed. Angry. Abused.

These are words that could be used to describe the emotions of John Sayles' characters in his latest, Limbo. But no, I use them to describe myself after sitting through his latest little exercise in indie egomania.

I can forgive many things. But using some hackneyed, whacked-out, screwed-up non-ending on a movie is unforgivable. I walked a half-mile in the rain and sat through two hours of typical, plodding Sayles melodrama to get cheated by a complete and total copout finale. Does Sayles think he's Roger Corman?

Maybe he does. Maybe the auteur has lost his mind at last.

Sadly, the bears do not get them.

Limbo is the story of a bunch of deadbeats in a small Alaskan town who pretty much have nothing to live for, but make a go of it anyway. These deadbeats include David Strathairn as Joe Gastineau, a washed-up fisherman, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio as Donna, a washed-up singer, and Vanessa Martinez as Noelle, her freakish daughter.

Limbo begins as light comedy, with these characters lightheartedly interacting, and Joe and Donna slowly getting together as a couple. But an hour later, Joe, Donna, and Noelle decide to take a boat trip with Joe's deadbeat drug runner of a brother, Bobby, and all hell breaks loose, leaving them stranded on a cold and wet island off the coast of Alaska.

The movie then becomes The Edge by way of The Piano. As the trio tries to survive on nothing, we learn of this little issue of some men who may be looking for them. By the end, we've finally started to care (barely) about these characters, but only after 120 minutes of babbling and preaching. The moment of truth arrives. Roll credits.

Whoops. I'd give away the ending but I can't. There is nothing to give away because there is no ending. Ho ho, you're supposed to reflect on the movie and draw your own conclusions. We're left in "Limbo," get it? Screw that! Sayles is a hack of the worst sort. People deserve a little payoff after spending their cash and their time on a film. Our crowd would agree. I've never heard such booing in a theater in all my life.

I was going to give Limbo three stars. Even though it has fifteen minutes of a character reading aloud from a book. Even though my butt hurt like a nail went through it after sitting in an uncomfortable seat for so long. Like I said, I was going to give Limbo three stars for giving it the old college try.

Surprise, John, this is what you get: ONE STAR.

Cast & Crew

Director :

Producer :


Limbo (1999) Rating

" Unbearable "

Rating: R, 1999


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