I Saw A Film!
I realize that you need a kind of hokey premise if you want to create a fun dramatic thriller. It’s not much use making a boxing movie if the opponent isn’t as nasty and pre-loaded with insults about your beloved wife as possible. Basically, you gotta have the pro-wrestling “heel” if you want an audience to root for the “face”. So while you’re sitting there watching Brad Pitt and Juliet Lewis portraying down-and-out classic hicks, replete with shitty clothing (confederate flag hats) and ignorant understanding of the world, don’t get too antsy. Like I did. The hubris these writers levied. The overweening self-satisfaction. Are we this immature?
About 25 minutes into the thing Duchovny’s character has a self-aware moment in a voice-over about what cliche’s Pitt and Lewis’s portrayals are and how he’s going to try to look past it. Too bad you’re trapped in a stupid ass movie and that bit of real-world compassion is just a basically a formula to get some blood flowing. Did Juliet Lewis’s career ever recover from this portrayal?
So the idea is this, Duchovny’s nerd character has this classical idea that we’re not much responsible for our actions, even in terms of murder. And, being a low-end journalist, wants to take a road-trip in a late model convertible to visit murder sites. What a setup. We quickly learn that Early (just in case you weren’t sure Pitt was portraying a redneck) killed his landlord just before jumping in the car with our idealistic, but also broke, lovers.
Here’s the rub, the argument could have been made that poverty and desperation drive what those of us who think of ourselves as civilized would call “evil”. If you’ve ever had a crap job, worked for crap wages and been unable to make rent, or electricity you find yourself on the “chased” end of the predator-prey social structure. Miss some bills, and watch the vultures arrive. The obvious job of the police is to chase the blue-collar folks who are actually trying. They’ve gotten their licenses they registered their vehicles and so the systems know when these things are up for renewal. We just exist in a cycle of those of us who can stave off the vultures and those who have to run to survive. This isn’t the story to explore our socio-economic failings. This is could be just a sequel to Deliverance that no one asked for. Did we need Pitt literally humming Dixie to himself after a restroom murder at a gas station? No joke, Dixie.
Arrested development has many ugly faces. We do ourselves few favors making these sorts of arrogant assumptions about rural accents and the ravages of poverty. One day we may catch up to the presumed meanness and boorishness we expect of those different from us. In the meantime we’ll be dealing with unbridgeable gaps in the political identification we seem so dramatically devoted to.
Sequences of this film are listening to tape of women being murdered while photographing a machine shop, the sort of folks doing this nonsense are hard to identify with. In fact, the first home owner they come upon to photograph the place where people were murdered has the best reaction he simply sneers, ghouls. Soon enough the film’s main purpose becomes clear, giving Duchovny’s character’s fascination with murder a full on murder spree to enjoy firsthand.
Soon enough Early swaps ladies, and drags the Michele Forbes (poor man’s Meg Tilly) character around a bit in a similar dress. Before Duchovny is forced to defend himself and his lady, and leading us to the heavy handed thickness of the difference between us and them. While we wallow in the sensational thrill of the individual hunt and pursuit we can forget about how the rich screw over families by the thousands through manipulation of economies and jobs. Certain politicians do more damage than any serial killer ever did.
This runs free on Prime (here in the usa) and at two hours is fairly labored and pretentious with artsy mixing of southwest atomic age claptrap.