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USA 1980
Directed by
Dennis Hopper
94 minutes
Rated MA

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
4 stars

Out Of The Blue

I have seen Out Of The Blue referred to as masterpiece. That is a considerable overstatement unless perhaps one is limiting the comparative range to Dennis Hopper’s own oeuvre. Originally hired solely as an actor, Hopper who had just finished his stint on Apocalypse Now took over as director at the last minute and reportedly supplied most of the film’s $1.2 million budget, thereby presumably ensuring creative control.

Reminiscent of the work of John Cassavetes, Out Of The Blue might be described as “theatrical realism”. That is to say, it is an artistically heightened version of  already-synthesised version of everyday life. Hopper plays a truck driver who after 5 years in jail for a drink-driving accident in which he hit a school bus is reunited with his slattern of a wife (Sharon Farrell) and punk-rock worshipping daughter (Linda Manz). The film starts out looking very much like a typical story of Southern working class poor but gradually it delves into the dysfunctionality lying behind the collective behaviour and takes us to a very dark place and an apocalyptic ending.

With a striking performance from Linda Manz who had come to everyone’s attention two year’s earlier as the narrator of Terrence Malick’s Days Of Heaven and who was actually 19 at the time but looked every bit the 12 year old she was supposed to be (an asset that did not sustain an acting career and she largely disappeared from sight after this) the film is, particularly for its time, a provocative work as Hopper builds his story through a series of  chronologically-related vignettes rather than a conventional linear narrative. \

Needless to say it is not a film that was likely to endear itself to the mainstream but it is a significant contribution to independent American cinema and does show the often inconsistent Hopper at his best.




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