Lone Star (1996) / Drama-Mystery
MPAA Rated: R for brief language, sex and violence
Running Time: 135 min.
Cast: Chris Cooper, Kris Kristofferson, Elizabeth Pena, Joe Morton, Matthew McConaughey
Director: John Sayles
Screenplay: John Sayles
Review published November 21, 1998
Another winner from John Sayles (Limbo, Eight Men Out), though in his typically overdone style, but with enough character development to fill three movies. This one is set with a murder-mystery for a crime that happened 40 years ago when the skeleton of what is believed to be Charlie Wade (Kristofferson, Convoy), a notoriously corrupt and murderous sheriff who kept the small Texas town under his iron-willed thumb for many years. The sheriff of today is Sam Deeds (Cooper, Boys), the son of the town's most popular sheriff, Buddy (McConaughey, Dazed and Confused). He thinks his father may not be as rosy as the townsfolk's image of him, even thinking he may have murdered Charlie himself, and sets about digging up the past of the crime and the history of the town he lives in. Meanwhile he tries to rekindle a romance with a local Mexican woman (Pena, Vibes) who was his first love.
John Sayles is a great writer, a good director, and a less-than-good editor. By editor I don't mean the actual person that cuts the film together, but the person who reads material and recommends what to strengthen and what to remove entirely. Lone Star is a solid film to be sure, but it might have been even better without some of the side stories and characters who, while providing well-drawn characters and interesting things to think about, serve to weaken the overall tightness of what is a good story to begin with. A good cast of character actors and a refreshing, almost allegorical setting makes for a film that's worth watching more than once. Lone Star provides food for thought, and while it may lack the emotional impact that most films of its ilk delivers, it's still very smart with lots of heart.
©2014 Vince Leo