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The story is fraught with murder, sex, and mayhem, and contains some of the most deliciously convincing characters ever seen on film. There's the stable scout, slatternly tart, laid-back law-officer, magnetic mischief maker, and caustic cop - all of them coming together at different stages to create a maelstrom of confusion and violence.
Director David Dobkin and scriptwriter Matt Healy don't waste a lot of time on exposition: The story opens on a shooting match as best friends Earl (Fregory Sporleder) and Clay (Joaquin Phoenix) test their skills at shattering beer bottles. Earl suddenly turns on Clay, accusing him of having an affair with his sluttish wife, Amanda (Georgina Cates).
Earl eventually turns the gun on himself, partly because he's fed up with Amanda's antics, but also because he reckons that he can set it up to look like a murder, thus framing Clay. Afterwards, Clay returns to the newly widowed, but conspicuously unconcerned Amanda and is disgusted by her lack of distress.
At first Amanda tells Clay to get lost, yet deep down she still desires him. After he spurns her advances, she begins stalking him which results in terrible and fatal consequences for them both. Soon Clay is plunged into an ambivalent fellowship with the engaging visitor, Lester Long (Vince Vaughn). Lester is an enigmatic cowboy drifter, who's swollen cowboy Panama matches his towering personality.Read more ›
Vince Vaughn's portrayal of Lester is absolutely first class, especially the scene in which he chats up the stony faced Fed in a bar. As a guy, one feels torn between wanting her not to fall for his wiles, and yet also wanting him to succeed! Joaquim Phoenix as Clay is also excellent, giving the part the vulnerability and frustration it needs.
Overall, a fantastic film to watch late at night with some well-chosen friends. Possibly followed by Fight Club if anyone can stay awake.