Lone Star (1996)

“To run a successful civilization, you have got to have your lines of demarcation: between right ‘n’ wrong, between this’n ‘n’ that’n. Your daddy understood that. He was uh what-you-call-it… the referee of this damn menudo we got down here. He understood how most folks don’t want their salt and sugar in the same jar.”

‘Lone Star’, directed by John Sayles in 1996, is an American crime drama set in a small Texas town on the border with Mexico. Chris Cooper plays Sam Wade, the town sherrif, who is called in when a skeleton is discovered in the desert. The discovery unearths a story that stretches back to Wade’s past and touches his family and risks shaping his future. It’s a dusty, grounded movie with a tangled narrative the uncompromnisingly blends time periods togather. It takes concentration to keep track of the shifting story and there is the sense of unearthing about it, both in the nature of the skeletal discovery and in the uncovering of the past. The film also ranges over many of the occupants of the town, rather than just focusing on Wade and his investigation. This gives the movie a feeling of being rooted in the location and in the population, almost as if Sayles is interested more in the people on the periphery of the story than the story itself. This makes for an unusual and free-ranging narrative that moves unpredictably both temporaly and geographically.

Would I recommend it? Yes – it’s and underplayed, independant modern western with a dynamic narrative and a moving plot. It shares some similarities with ‘Chinatown’, so I’d recommend that for a double bill.

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