Lone Star Movie Review

Lone Star can be simply described as an incredible mess.

John Sayles, darling of the indie film movement, has created this picture, an epic study of racial tension in mythical Frontera, Texas, a border town in the Rio Grande Valley. (The film was actually shot in Eagle Pass, quite a ways upriver from the Valley.) Set against the backdrop of a son investigating his father's involvement in the murder of a sheriff some 40 years earlier, Sayles wanders, Short Cuts-like, through the lives of 15 or so major characters.

The film is full of excellent performances, including Chris Cooper (Sam Deeds, the current sheriff and investigating son), Matthew McConaughey (Buddy Deeds, his dad, in flashback), Kris Kristofferson (the evil and long-dead ex-sheriff Charley Wade), Elizabeth Peña (Pilar, Sam's girlfriend), and Frances McDormand (in a cameo as Sam's ex-wife). The problem is that Sayles's script could have used some work, as it meanders through 2 1/2 hours of plot that is mostly irrelevant to the primary story line. One of these side-tracks involves Pilar's Mexican family, their prejudices, how they want to teach Texas History, illegal immigration, and a host of scattered other themes. Another subplot involves the black community, a closing Army base, a family drama between grandfather, father, and son, and how this all fits in with the 40-year old murder (answer: very, very sketchily).

Sayles's biggest problem is that he likes the sound of his writing so much that he lets it go on forever. In fact, he continually prefers to talk about things that have happened than to actually show them happening (thus violating the first rule of screenwriting). It's no wonder that your legs (and mind) are asleep when the movie's over.

Sayles also has a poor understanding of what the Valley is really like, giving it a large black community that simply does not exist there. With Lone Star, Sayles is trying to jam every racial theme he's ever thought of into one movie, but he fails due to this glaring inaccuracy (and interestingly, it's that very subplot which is the poorest).

By the time the engrossing final 15 minutes arrive, we're already too bored to care too much. Sure, there are a few nice twists along the way, and as a director, Sayles's use of flashbacks is well-done and breaks up the monotony of the script. Also, the aforementioned solid acting does a lot to give this otherwise mediocre film some credibility. A real editor (Sayles did that, too) would have saved the picture, though, by trimming off 45 minutes.

Finally, with this serious drama set in remote, rural Texas, Sayles will achieve two things with certainty: 1) That most critics will drool all over him with praise, and 2) that no one will actually pay to see the film. Sorry, John.

Comments

Lone Star Rating

" OK "

Rating: PG-13, 1996

Advertisement

More Chris Cooper

Pharrell Takes His Hat To 'The Amazing Spider-Man 2' NY Premiere - Part 3

'Happy' singer Pharrell Williams and his famously large hat were spotted amongst the crowd at the New York premiere for 'The Amazing Spider-Man 2' alongside...

The Amazing Spider-man 2 Movie Review

As with the too-early franchise reboot in 2012, this sequel struggles to balance the demands of a teen romance with a superhero blockbuster. The interpersonal...

The Amazing Spiderman 2 - Clips Trailer

Peter Parker is facing a period of deep confusion in every aspect of his life. No longer is everything black and white, nor is it...

August: Osage County Movie Review

Tracy Letts adapts his own prize-winning play into a blistering depiction of one of cinema's most dysfunctional families ever. It's still rather theatrical, throwing a...

Advertisement

August: Osage County And Meryl Streep Win Big At Capri, Hollywood Film Festival

After early predictions pegged the Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts starrer August: Osage County as a frontrunner for awards season 2014, the film has now...

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 Trailer

Peter Parker has always had difficulty trying to prioritise his life. There's the personal side of it; the ordinary teenage angst, trying to hold down...

August: Osage County Trailer

The Weston family know they are probably one of the most dysfunctional families around, but they do understand that sometimes it's best to stick together....

Paul Giamatti Continues American Invasion Of Downton Abbey With Season Four Appearance

Paul Giamatti will become the next American actor to appear in the hugely successful British period drama Downton Abbey, with the American Splendour actor set...

Advertisement