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Limbo [DVD] [2000]

David Strathairn , Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio , John Sayles    DVD
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Actors: David Strathairn, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Vanessa Martinez, Hermínio Ramos, Kris Kristofferson
  • Directors: John Sayles
  • Writers: John Sayles
  • Producers: Maggie Renzi, Sarah Connors
  • Format: Anamorphic, Full Screen, PAL
  • Language: French, English
  • Subtitles: English, French, Arabic
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: R (Restricted) (US MPAA rating. See details.)
  • Run Time: 126 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00004VXZT
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 455,770 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)



There are three unforgettable characters in John Sayles's contemporary adventure-drama set in Alaska. They are never seen but live only in a frontier diary found by teenager Noelle De Angelo (Vanessa Martinez). The life of the diary's narrator is much like everything in this movie: hanging in limbo. The first half of the film focuses on why men and woman turn to Alaska, a land still ripe with opportunity. A small town is at a crossroads, with its pulp mill and canning factory closed and new investors seeing different directions in which to take the area (one even boasts the state is the ultimate theme park). A local (Sayles regular David Strathairn) is just escaping his past, taking up commercial fishing again. He attracts a travelling nightclub singer (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio in her best role in years) who struggles daily with her daughter Noelle. Like any good theme park, Limbo presents the threesome with an unexpected adventure. In the wilderness, the three relative strangers learn more about themselves than was ever possible in town. Sayles's usual craftsmanship creates a singular blend of drama and suspense with an ending designed to ruffle feathers. Not as accessible as his breakthrough hit Lone Star, Limbo is nevertheless a hearty film from one of America's best storytellers. --Doug Thomas

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
By KalteStern VINE VOICE
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This got very mixed reviews from mainstream film critics, but anything by John Sayles is probably worth a look I thought, so despite the initial plot premise not really sounding quite my bag, I started watching. And 'Matewan' didn't look my kinda thing on paper either..
Suffice to say this is one of those films where the combination of script , actors, and cinematography is of such a high calibre that suspension of disbelief is absolute - you just get completely caught up in the unfolding drama. It is also, cleverly, one of those films that wrong foot you completely, in that you just cannot assume you know what kind of film it is going to be as it unfolds - romance? modern tragedy? psychological thriller/puzzle? Other films have tried to pull this off , often very much more crudely, but with this one you utterly believe in the characters, and just have to keep watching to find out what happens. Be warned though, the ending could drive you wild with frustration.....
All in all a film for anyone who wants more than mental popcorn from their movies, with a great soundtrack (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio sings! .. amazingly well, so much so in fact that I assumed it must be someone else until the end credits), including songs by Bruce Springsteen,Richard Thomson and Tom Waits, glorious craggy scenery in the form of John Strathairn and Kris Kristofferson's cheekbones, and Alaska, of course.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Caught Up Again 18 Feb 2008
Strathairn, Mastrantonio and Sales are an explosive combination and it takes a while to realize you're part of the fallout. I got caught up quite accidentally while channel shifting one foggy night in Northern Ireland. The story is simple, real and life. The outcome life. The acting is understated, drama at it's best, and the directing is pure Sales. If you are a fan of cast, director, Alaska or your own process, you will be caught too. So, how does it end? You tell me. I particularly enjoyed the singing voice of Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sayles on form 27 Jun 2009
The reviewer who said this film did not have an ending rather missed the point: check the title, the ending is perfect. John Sayles is a director unlike any other in the way he creates complex cross currents of character & motive which work on more than one level and leave a resonance which encourages you to return to the films over & again. I first saw this in a nearly empty cinema - a very strange sensation, I was totally alone at the beginning of the film & almost left for that reason, but am glad that I stayed for yet another uncategorisable & beautiful film. All manner of little details come back to mind, most memorably the early settler's diary they discover which the young girl reads excerpts from each day, a scheherazade touch with yet another little twist of its own. Lone Star is probably still my favourite of all John Sayles' films due to the skill with which he handles so many themes & interlinking stories & of course the acting, but Limbo has grown in my estimation to be a close contender. That said so has Sunshine State. With John Sayles you really can't go wrong, I am not aware of any film of his which deserves fewer than 4 stars.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Bit of a Tease. 7 Feb 2011
John Sayles might be a true blue all American boy, but he directs films that are light years away from the usual Hollywood fare. Like nearly all his films, this one is not easy to get to grips with. It can confuse and frustrate you, but if you persevere you can be rewarded. Sayles manages to have a bit of fun with the medium, and concentrates on building the framework of his film around a bedrock of intelligent narrative. Nothing mind blowing, but it often picks up the detritus of life that we all struggle with. He is a born storyteller, who loves to engage with the viewer. There are so many times when you think, "hello, where are we going now?". The ending typifies this Sayles sense of fun.

Sayles does for Alaska, what he did so magnificently for a Mexican border town in "Lone Star". A number of the locals are put under the microscope, and their petty quarrels, relationships and angsts are painfully examined. Some may find this a bit tedious, but stick with it! The film later, rather unexpectedly morphs into an adventure story, when the lead actor, his romantic flame, and her daughter are stranded on an inhospitable island. Even here their relationships take precedent over a Robinson Crusoe type struggle to survive. Sayles, the consumate storyteller, continues to tease his audience to the very end.

The film is very well acted indeed, with David Strathairn able to demonstrate what a great actor he is away from his usual supporting roles. He is utterly convincing as a man with an albatross on his back, in one of the better performances I have watched in a long time. Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio offers excellent support, and is able to showcase her singing talent. Sayles again uses Kris Kristofferson, a favourite actor of his in a limited support role.
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