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USA 1996
Directed by
John Sayles
135 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars

Lone Star

Writer/director John Sayles' Tex-Mex genre film tells the story of a Texas sheriff, Sam Deeds (Chris Cooper) trying to discover the truth about his daddy (Matthew McConaughey), a local legend in whose shadow he lives. A couple of amateur prospectors find a skeleton and sheriff’s badge in the desert, and is quickly revealed to be that of Sheriff Charlie Wade, his dad’s predecessor and a bad ass lawman, who ran the town as his personal cash cow who disappeared 20 years earlier along with $10,000. Sam, chip-on-shoulder, believes that his father killed Wade and sets out to take the legend down.

Sayles typically weaves many issues around these bare bones. There’s a secondary fractured father-son relationship, a romance between Sam and schoolteacher Pilar (Elizabeth Peña), a look at “wet-back” smuggling, cross-cultural society and Army life, old ways versus new ways and so on, all skilfully integrated into the complex plot and seamlessly integrated by a visual technique that allows the narrative to move between past and present. Cooper, with his laconic style is effective in the lead and as always, Sayles' carefully observed characterisations and sense of integrity shine through the genre format.

FYI: The film was shot by Australian cinematographer Stuart Dryburgh.




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