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A well acted and directed intricate piece of filmaking (sp)
John K. Reed | Harrisburg, PA United States | 07/26/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"No one is less of a Meg Ryan fan than I. She is, entirely too cutsie for my taste. Not that she's bad to look at mind you. But in this film she is about as sexy, real, and sympathetic as possible. Her performance was perfect for the part. Dennis Quaid gives his finest performance ever as the tormented son of James Caan.It's pretty easy to see where the film is headed fairly early in the picture but it's so well acted and directed that it's well worth the price of admission. The film is extremely character driven including an incredibly cheap yet sexy Gwyneth Paltrow.The movie has much to say about relationships, loyalty, selfishness and the price paid because of them."
One of My Favorites: A Great Underappreciated Sleeper
John K. Reed | 12/04/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This film is one of my favorites. The story is suspenseful and well plotted. The theme is universal, but if you're not from small-town western Oklahoma or western Texas, or have not spent extended time there, you may not fully appreciate what a fabulous job Kloves (a native of Austin TX) has done in this film -- and how underappreciated the film is. It is a true sleeper. Culturally, this movie is the Southwestern equivalent of a film about Native Americans written and directed by a Native American. Speaking as a native of the Southwest, it was so refreshing to see a movie set in the rural Southwest that broke from the stale stereotype of the typical "western" law & order, yahoo, or save the ranch movies --one that tells a compelling and suspenseful personal story in a culturally authentic manner, without a single sheriff in sight. "Blood" or family ties are sacrosanct in this region of the country, so the theme is very appropriate to the cultural context while remaining of interest to most viewers. Ryan's, & Cann's performances are respectable, but not exceptionally authentic culturally. I agree with the earlier critique of Ryan's portrayal, but she nevertheless does a pretty good job for a girl from Connecticut-- one that is more regionally authentic than Cann's! This was the first film I saw Paltrow in, and she played her jaded character so convincingly (Paltrow's character is a wandering con artist from parts unknown -- obviously not from the Southwest) that it took time to view her differently in later films. However, if your only exposure to "cowboys" is from western movies, country-western music videos, or city-born "drugstore" cowboys, and you haven't spent time around feed lots, and cattle auctions in Texas or Oklahoma, then you've never seen real "born and bred" country cowboys from the Southwest and you probably won't realize how remarkable and true Quaid's performance is. When I first saw this film years ago, Quaid's performance was so good -- so nuanced -- that I was sure he had to have grown up in the country of west Texas. Quaid captured the body language and subtle mannerisms perfectly. My husband and I love watching this movie and we never fail to marvel anew at Quaid's performance each time we see it. It is so rare to see a captivating film of this quality and authenticity set in the rural Southwest."
"A Viewer from Texas" Just Doesn't Understand...
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The ending of this fine film is hardly "senseless." The film is a refutation of biological determinism, although it could also be used to refute environmental determinism. After having been told by his evil father (James Caan) that they have the same bloodline--implying that this must make his son Arlis (Dennis Quaid) evil, just like his father--Arlis buys into this claptrap. "If you're born to it" and "It's not in your blood" are two of Arlis' typical comments. But at the end, when he says, "It's NOTHING--only BLOOD," he has finally realized that we all have free will and that we make our own decisions, bloodline or no bloodline. This film is truly Dostoevskian, PARTICULARLY the ending, which is as good a compliment as you can pay to any film. The great Russian novelist also saw the horrible danger in the determinist credo. Give this film 5 stars and send "A Viewer from Texas" back to school."