Review Date: October 18, 1999
Director: Antonio Banderas
Writer: Mark Childress
Producers: M. Teper, L. Goldstein-Knowlton
Set in the 1960s, a mother of six children murders her husband in cold blood after 13 years of mistreatment and heads out to Hollywood to take a shot at the big-time. Meanwhile, her favorite nephew Peejoe is left back home with some of her secrets and a dilemma, after he sees the local sheriff kill an innocent black youth.
This film combines various elements from a handful of other films, beginning with a solo THELMA & LOUISE theme, and actually manages to meche all of the different situations into a cohesive whole by the way of interesting characters, a sharp eye and direction from Antonio Banderas and a captivating performance by Melanie Griffith. Thank God, she actually plays something other than an airhead bimbo in this one! I also enjoyed the way it was shot with both stories intercrossing one another all the way through with overall effectiveness. I think the most credit has to be given to the director in this case, who was able to juggle the two plot lines with great aplomb, and bring out solid performances from all of his players. I thought that both the kid and Melanie stood out in the cast, despite my initial mixed reaction to his strong accent. Add to that an excellent ensemble of supporting actors, including the always effective David Morse, the surprising Meatloaf and the scene-stealing antics of the 'contender's brother, Rod Steiger.
Now when you consider that I wanted nothing to do with this film before actually seeing it, my recommendation should carry even more weight (At least to those who care : ). One thing which does worry me about this film, is the fact that it might never find a real target audience and get lost in the shuffle of this weekend's five opening films. If so, be sure to catch this movie on video because it really does offer many telling lessons on love, persistence and freedom. And even if you're not interested in these messages, you should at least try to see it because of the extremely well-handled directorial debut of Antonio Banderas, a strong performance from his wife, Melanie, and a hilarious supporting role by Rod Steiger, who takes the ball and runs with it! Not a major motion picture, but definitely one that ought to be savored as a major surprise.
(c) 2017 Berge Garabedian