Sunday, October 11, 2015

U Turn

Movie Name: U Turn
Year of Release: 1997
Director: Oliver Stone
Stars: Sean Penn, Jennifer Lopez, Nick Nolte, Joaquin Phoenix, Claire Danes, Powers Boothe, Billy Bob Thornton, Jon Voight, Julie Hagerty, Bo Hopkins, Brent Briscoe, Laurie Metcalf, Abraham Benrubi, 
Genre: Drama, Crime, Suspense
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 7

Synopsis & Review:
Oliver Stone's winning 90s decade continued with another great, yet mostly unseen, film, "U Turn". The film is an adaptation of John Ridley's book "Stray Dogs" (Ridley is the Oscar winning writer of "12 Years a Slave"), and it follows the story of a petty criminal by the name of Bobby, who wanders into a small town on the run from some serious criminals who have already taken some of his fingers. In the small town he comes across an array of strange characters and becomes involved with the beautiful (and married) Grace. Her husband hires Bobby to kill Grace, who in turn hires Bobby to kill Jake. In a town, where nothing is what it seems, Bobby suddenly finds himself trapped in a situation that is almost surreal and seemingly without solution.
Oliver Stone's career was filled with fantastic films through the 80s and 90s, but as the 90s came to an end, the same happened with the quality of his directorial efforts. "U Turn" exhibits the traits of the formal experimentation that Oliver Stone trademarked with the fantastic "JFK", "Natural Born Killers" and even "Nixon", but in this film he and his usual collaborator, cinematographer Robert Richardson, applied it to a noir context, which turned out was a perfect fit. The film uses the small town as a claustrophobic setting, one from which none of the characters have a chance of escaping. In that town, the typical archetypes from film noir appear, such as the femme fatale, the young hothead, the young beautiful ingenue, the drifter, all adding a layer of familiarity and bizarreness, much like a "Twilight Zone" scenario. The film succeeds in being both a dark crime drama and another step in an experiment that stretches the language of film. The director has also managed to assemble a fantastic cast, with the awesome Sean Penn leading the ensemble, with Joaquin Phoenix, Nick Nolte, Billy Bob Thornton and Claire Danes in supporting roles. The cinematography from Robert Richardson is fantastic, as is the score from the legendary composer Ennio Morricone. An underrated film worth revisiting.