Review Date: June 08, 1999
Director: John Sayles
Writer: John Sayles
Producers: Maggie Renzi
Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio as Donna
David Strathairn as Joe Gastineau
Vanessa Martinez as Noelle De Angelo
A single mom songstress who's been moving from loser boyfriend to loser boyfriend for years with her teenage daughter, meets a nice ex-fisherman in Alaska, caught up in his own past demons. When the man's deadbeat half-brother takes them all out for a boat ride, the film suddenly switches gears, and turns into an all-out battle of self-discovery and survival.
People will be divided on this film. On the one hand, it is a wonderfully photographed picture set in a lush environment not often caught on film, Alaska, with genuine performances from all of its main leads, interesting characters and an ending that might have you appreciating its fresh unconventionality. On the other hand, it's basically a movie featuring an Alaskan fisherman who falls for an over-the-hill folkie singer with a messed up daughter, that runs a little over 125 minutes, moves at a slow pace, and might have many people screaming "foul" after its anti-Hollywood ending. I personally reside somewhere in between these two views (I guess you could say that I'm in "limbo" over my opinion....hehe....sorry, but I had to!), with heavy kudos to Vanessa Martinez, who played the daughter, John Sayles for executing an interesting character study inside an unexciting environment (for me, at least), and the ending, which initially left me feeling betrayed, but ultimately challenged me to think about the deeper meaning of this film's message.
The actual goal of the film wasn't to tidy things up nice and cozy, it was to present us with the lives of various characters interacting amongst one another under different life experiences, motivations and vulnerabilities. In the end, I felt as though many of their innermost fears had been conquered and they were ready to take on the world/or disappear from it. If you are the type of person who does not like films with open-ended finishes, you will probably HATE this movie! I personally found it to be a little long for my taste (I think they could have cut some parts of the daughter reading endlessly out of the diary), a little boring in others, but overall, it didn't dull me as much as I thought it would. The screenwriter and actors should be commended for that, since it was their characters who sparked that subtle interest within me. All in all, think character study meets THE EDGE (7/10) with an ending that nobody can agree on.
(c) 2017 Berge Garabedian