Well, they're surprising if you hadn't made the Usual Suspects connection, which is fairly impossible to miss. It's not terribly difficult to predict where the story is going; Hanley's script is short on subtlety and understatement. But Paxton's acting and direction are finely gauged to keep our interest. There's a warm, homey glow to the film that underscores its rural Texas settings and highlights the horrific violence without ever being gruesomely explicit, and Paxton is very good as the single father whose mind begins to slip as he tries to take care of his boys. McConaughey and Boothe create a coolly restrained tension as the narrative emerges. The child actors aren't as strong; O'Leary is promising as the sceptic, but Sumpter seems underdirected and as a result unconvincing. And even if the film isn't nearly as clever or insightful as it thinks it is, at least it has the courage to go for a chillingly offbeat conclusion.
dir Bill Paxton|
scr Brent Hanley
with Bill Paxton, Matthew McConaughey, Powers Boothe, Matt O'Leary, Luke Askew, Jeremy Sumpter, Melissa Crider, Levi Kreis Derk Cheetwood, Alan Davidson, Cyhthia Ettinger, Vincent Chase
release US 12.Apr.02; UK 6.Sep.02
Brothers in arms. The Meiks siblings (McConaughey and Kreis) have a little chat before things get even more complicated.
|"Excellent film. Make sure you watch it. If you like this, you will then also want to watch Jacob's Ladder." --Mark Higson, Fleetwood, Lancs 5.May.03|