Film Scouts Reviews

"Lone Star"

by Leslie Rigoulot

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May 12, 1996

Being a homesick Texan at the Cannes Film Festival, I may have a slightly distorted view of "Lone Star", John Sayles' combination murder mystery-civics investigation which opened the Director's Fortnight in Cannes, Friday night. Never thought Eagle Pass, Texas would look good to me, but I bet that's how the different generations caught up in "Lone Star" might view the town of Frontera, too.

Reminiscent of the cinematic style of his "City of Hope", Sayles combines mystery with family drama for a most satisfying mix. Doing a bit of Sunday metal prospecting, two sergeants from the local Army post find a skull and rusty sheriff's badge on the rifle range, and it doesn't take sheriff Sam Deeds (Chris Cooper) long to figure out that they belong to the late and bully-boy sheriff (Kris Kristofferson), run out of town a generation ago by the good sheriff, Buddy Deeds (Matthew McConaughey). Buddy happens to be Sam's Daddy.

In the South, we are accustomed to the idea that past and present merge and diverge from time to time. Sayles just has a way of presenting it in seamless fashion. And each time that you think he has digressed never to return, Sayles is simply peeling back more layers of the onion.

African-Americans, Hispanics and Anglos each have generational differences that enhance and blur the mystery of who killed Charlie Wade, the bribes and bullets sheriff. At two hours and seventeen minutes, it can get a little draggy in the middle, but I can't think of anything the story could do without. My favorite character is Bunny, the ex-wife of our intrepid sheriff, played by Frances McDormand, who puts the hype in hyper with this football fanatic. Maybe it was just good to see Troy Aikman's number 8 shirt, but in all honesty, I think I sat next to Bunny at one of the high school football games last year.

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