Limbo (1999) / Drama-Thriller

MPAA Rated: R for language
Running Time: 126 min.

Cast: David Strathairn, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Vanessa Martinez, Kris Kristofferson, Casey Siemaszko
Director: John Sayles
Screenplay: John Sayles

Review published June 14, 1999

In southeast Alaska, there are more than a few people finding themselves at a crossroads, not only in their own careers and communities, but in their own personal lives. Joe (Strathairn, L.A. Confidential) is a former fisherman with a traumatic past involving a boating accident that resulted in a couple of deaths. Donna (Mastrantonio, Consenting Adults) is a small club singer with a history of falling for men who are bad for her, and finds her emotionally troubled daughter pulling farther away from her emotionally as time progresses. Bobby (Siemaszko, The Phantom) is Joe's half-brother with a drug problem and when some baddies end up knocking him off, Joe, Donna and Noelle (Martinez, Lone Star) end up on a deserted island in a fight for survival.

Sometimes being deep doesn't always equate to being great, as is evidenced with the very intelligent by writer-director John Sayles. What seems wrong is the first hour of the film, which I suppose sets up the characters effectively, but really Limbo only begins to pay off by the last half where the trio are stranded with seemingly no way off their deserted island. This is a thinking person's movie, but some poor choices for supporting actors and a dragging plot do little to bolster the profound screenplay by Sayles. Perhaps it will only be talked about for the ambiguous ending, which many will find infuriating, but in retrospect will deem it fitting. Sayles is an excellent small-film director, and while Limbo has its share of moments, it's the moments between these moments that threaten to bog it down to the level of almost becoming tediously dull.  

 Qwipster's rating::

1999 Vince Leo