Anita (Drew Barrymore) is a bored white trash girl with a dull lifestyle, tormented by her classmates and abused by her mother's violent boyfriend. When ex-con and murderer Howard enters her life, he becomes the focus of her attention. Soon Anita is indulging in a passionate affair with Howard, and sharing his interest in guns.
Freshly arrived on the comeback trail after the well-publicised excesses of her childhood, Drew Barrymore found herself cast in 1991's Gun Crazy
as white-trash California girl Anita, whose status as walking punchline and bully fodder for her classmates is compounded further when she strikes up a pen-pal relationship with Howard (James LeGros), a reflective, thoughtful and altogether charming older man. The snag? Howard's currently residing in a maximum-security Federal institution in Chino, Ca., where he's doing time for manslaughter. Not that Anita considers this an impediment to romance and--as soon as her beau is released on parole--the two set up home together in a doomed attempt to live out their apple-pie fantasy of loving coupledom and domestic bliss. The all-too-inevitable crime spree is, of course, right around the corner.
Loosely based on Joseph H Lewis' 1950 film noir of the same name, director Tamra Davis' bittersweet melodrama treads familiar territory, but does so with a rare degree of bleak poetry and fuzzy, persuasive naturalism. The arid, empty Midwestern landscapes may not have quite the same potency as they did in Warren Beatty and Arthur Penn's seminal Bonnie and Clyde, but as a grungy update on the form, Gun Crazy is more than acceptable. The deadpan conviction of the relationship between Barrymore and LeGros--both of whom do well in their roles--among the trailer parks and derelict buildings gives the film a genuinely poignant centre. --Danny Leigh