Magazine article Newsweek

Lone Star

Magazine article Newsweek

Lone Star

Article excerpt

JOHN SAYLES'S AMBITIOUS WONDERFULLY complex Lone Star covers 40 years in the history of the small but certainly not sleepy border town of Frontera, Texas, the sort of place where a murder that occurred in 1957 can have shattering aftershocks in 1996. A skull and a lawman's badge, discovered in the desert outside town, kick off the story. Sam Deeds (Chris, Cooper), Frontera's sheriff, is convinced the skull is that of Charley Wade (Kris Kristofferson), the vicious, corrupt and all-powerful sheriff who ruled Frontera when the white man held all the power, and the town's Hispanics and blacks lived in fear of Wade's gun. But Sam's investigation into this ancient murder has a double edge, because he suspects the man who killed Wade was the sheriff who replaced him--Sam's own father Buddy Deeds (Matthew McConaughey), a legend whom nearly everyone in the town still reveres. Everyone except his son, who has never forgiven his father for breaking up his childhood romance with a local Hispanic girl, and who has never been able to escape his father's large shadow.

This is just the entry gate to Sayles's epic. As in his 1991 "City of Hope," Sayles weaves a dense, novelistic fabric that follows at least 10 major characters and scads of vividly evoked minor parts, revealing with an almost Dickensian largesse the interconnections that bind and divide this racially and ethnically fraught town. The director slides startlingly into his flashbacks, mixing past and present as if erasing the distinction between the two. His point is clear: we carry our history within us, our past always in our present. …

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