This is one of the best films of the last decade and ranks with the best of the last twenty-five years. Sayle's is the unsung secret of American cinema - you will have heard his dialogue in many a mainstream Hollywood movie,where he has been the script doctor the execs. turn to when they want something extra. Thankfully he still has time to produce cinema of extraordinary range and ambition. Lone Star is at heart a simple unsolved mystery - the body of a long missing but not mourned old style Texas sheriff. Cooper is the modern sheriff trying to put the pieces back together - and implicating his own father. But there is so much more here; Sayle's the scriptwriter effortlessly manages to combine family, race, history and politics into a very human, warm and at times funny story that lingers in the mind for a long time. Sayle's the director manages to produce a portrait of a border town so three dimensional and astute one cannot help but warm to the characters and their predicaments. He also gets topline performances from actors who would not normally be given such prominance by Hollywood. Standouts are Pena and Cooper but there is not a single weak link in the large cast - ensemble is always a strength in Sayle's films but this is probably the best single set of performances this side of Mamet. And don't forget Sayle's the editor, who manages with breathtaking ease to revolve the camera through 180 whilst going back or forward in time. The travesty is this film was nominated for one Oscar only - for best script. But then again it is all Hollywood doesen't want to be - smart, intelligent, slow burning and controversial. If your not sure what I mean then you will whan you have reached the end - one of the most sublime subversive endings in modern cinema anywhere. Having recently bought the DVD from the US it is now a treasured possession. If you are looking for smart cinema look no further. Twenty years from now this will be a classic.
An enjoyable late 90s murder mystery which was apparently never released on DVD in the UK so am very pleased with this purchase and to be able to add this to my film collection. Item arrived well before the estimated delivery time and was in decent condition.
This is such a great film on so many levels. Unfortunately I bought one for the wrong continent because I didn't realise that could happen. My mistake, just reviewing so others don't do the same. So 5 stars for the film but can't watch it! Doh!
ByBob SalterTOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 16 January 2010
Format: DVD|Verified Purchase
It has taken me a long time to finally watch a John Sayles film, and I am glad to say it was well worth the wait. This is one of the better films that I have seen in a long time, which somehow slipped under my malfunctioning radar. The film was written, directed and edited by Sayles, who finances his films through scriptwriting in more generic Hollywood fodder. But his own auteur's vision is as different to the staple Hollywood production line as the Parthenon is to a block of Manchester flats. Sayle's truly stamps his own hallmark deeply into the film.
The film itself is set in the 90s in the small Texas border town of Frontera. The town is situated on the Rio Grande opposite to its poor Mexican cousin Ciudad Leon. The location is ideal to explore the dynamics of people who live in an ever fluctuating multi cultural society. Part contemporary western, part love story, and part murder mystery it is like a hot spicy broth all mixed up and stirred vigorously. The body of an old sheriff gone missing in the fifties is discovered and an investigation into the suspicious circumstances of his death is commenced by the towns sheriff. Matters are further complicated by the fact that the current sheriff's father was also a former sheriff of the town, and is strongly implicated in the earlier disappearance. The plot then begins to weave a rich tapestry to bring interlocking stories together. We head to an ending with a couple of unexpected twists. Will the murderer be found nearly forty years after the crime?
The above synopsis hardly does justice to the intricacies of what is an extremely intelligent and perceptive script. Sayle's is a skilled storyteller who would no doubt be capable of writing fine books. He uses his skill to examine people from differing ethnic backgrounds tackling their own social problems. They grapple with historical identity, education and politics. This is a very ambitious undertaking that few would have pulled off, but Sayle's succeeds brilliantly. The story and language contained within in it is always totally believable and never trite. The ensemble cast, are all excellent, especially Chris Cooper as the son investigating his own fathers possible crime. Cooper has been used regularly by Sayle's, and is a fine actor in the Robert Mitchum mould. Kris Kristofferson appears in flashback to good effect, if all too briefly as the murdered racist sheriff Wade. Matthew McConaughey also makes a strong impression in the flashback scenes as Cooper's now dead father. This was before he became the doyen of the Hollywood fluffy bunny, girly films! The past looms large in the film, and is skillfully woven into the films fabric. The flashbacks are never intrusive and flow seamlessly through the film as facts and lives slowly emerge from the dark. This is a masterful film that should be seen at least twice to fully appreciate its qualities. A deserved five stars. Time to catch up on more of Mr Sayle's films!
It's long and slow as a texas summer, and utterly compelling. The performances are intense, sustained and moving, the story is complex and based on a rich understanding of human nature, and the film plays constantly and subtly on the way memory works, the way the past influences the present and how we can take charge of the present despite the past. This film is one of the unsung greats of recent film-making. This film makes mainstream "intelligent" movies like American Beauty seem banal and jejune. I saw it on the big screen and it removed all of us viewers entirely from a rather grubby cinema in Piccadilly to another plane entirely. Buy it, watch it, and watch it again.
A nearly great film which you think is someplace next to Cohnville but eschews the weirdness mostly for something closer to reality. The characters are generally beautifully played and believable enough but it seems to have become a bit stuck in the then fashionable ensemble groove (rut is too strong). Also despite the charisma of Kris K. he plays that snake-eyed stereotype of the ice-blooded killler cop. And lastly it's a bit too close to 'decency' skirting too many neat resolutions - but only just. The central story of about 4 or 5 characters hits all the right notes and there is a very satisfying conclusion.