Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Western with Subtext Has Star Quality

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Western with Subtext Has Star Quality

Article excerpt


Rating: R, language.

Running time: 2:18.

THIS splendid, suspenseful film set in Texas near the Mexican border tells a complex story with rare clarity and emotional honesty. It may well be the best movie to date by writer-director John Sayles, who has quietly become the dean of American independent filmmakers, with 10 features over the past 16 years.

A desiccated skeleton and an age-encrusted badge are found in the desert outside the border town of Frontera. The county sheriff, Buddy Deeds (Chris Cooper) begins an investigation that leads him 40 years into the past, to a period when Buddy's father, Sam Deeds (Matthew McConaughey), was the sheriff.

Legend has it that Sam Deeds, a well-liked man, got the job after facing down his crooked, racist predecessor Charley Wade (Kris Kristofferson), and forcing him to leave town. Now, it's beginning to look as if Sam Deeds killed Charley Wade and buried him in the desert.

Prominent local people urge Buddy not to stir up old ghosts, since the town is better off with Charley Wade gone. But Buddy stubbornly persists in pursuing the investigation.

The trail winds through the multi-cultural society along the border as Buddy confronts Mexican-American citizens, illegal immigrants, Anglo-Americans, African-Americans and a racially mixed group of soldiers at a nearby Army post. He is continually running into the sociological borders that people put up to separate themselves from one another.

His willingness, even need, to cross these borders is symbolized by the fact that his high school girlfriend Pilar (Elizabeth Pena) is the daughter of a sternly matriarchal Mexican-American businesswoman. But the borders are tenacious - both Buddy and Pilar ended up marrying other people. Now they are single again, and take hesitant steps toward rekindling the fire.

The romance of Buddy and Pilar - which achieves an evanescent moment as they dance in a darkened cafe to Freddy Fender's gorgeous Spanish-language recording of "Since I Met You Baby" - is one of several strong sub-plots in "Lone Star. …

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