Movie Review: Lone Star

© 1997 Dan Heller

Quick Review: Go out and see it before it fades away. This is probably the best movie I've seen this year.

Synopsis: a small town on the Mexican boarder has a long and interesting history, which includes an integrated community that struggles with racial tensions and bigotry in the past, as well as today. (It just takes different forms today.) The actual plot of the movie surrounds the investigation of a murder that took place over 20 years ago, but the subplots of the characters involved almost overshadow the storyline, bringing it all together in the end.

The things that makes the movie so good start with "characters." Those who read my reviews frequently see me talk about "depth of character", and this is the movie that demonstrates the concept to perfection. And it doesn't take much -- an expression, a line in the script, a movement. Every character in this movie has depth, down to the janitor that has just a couple of lines. When you get a taste of this kind of movie, you begin to realize why I find it so hard to tolerate Twister. (I know the movies themselves can't be compared, but as long as you have humans from our planet interacting on screen, you might as well give them credible lines, and this movie can show you how simple it can be to do that.)

Next, we have plot. From this perspective, the plot is simple and, if it weren't for the dramatic intricasies between eveyrone involved, it'd be simple enough to figure out. But you don't really bother trying because you get so wrapped up in the subplots, which start out as completely independent and unrelated events. But as they end up all coming together, it shows us how the things we do affect each other simply because we live in the world together. Are your eyes rolling from that comment? Well, you see the movie and tell me it doesn't affect you the same way. :-)

Notes: Lone Star was written, directed and produced by John Sayles, who also did Passion Fish, The Secret of Roan Inish, Brother from Another Planet, The Howling. ...around 24 movies to date. There is only one reason many people don't think this is a mainstream movie: it's not being advertised. It's full of mainstream stars, high production value, and even violence and bad language. Box office receipts have been steady for the 10 weeks it's been released, never going down. It's not breaking any records, but it does show how the power of word-of-mouth gives to the success of a movie that has no promotion.
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