Unrelenting and predictable, this pretentious collaboration between a music video director and the writer of REVENGE OF THE NERDS covers all of the bases now required in a road movie thriller, to precious little dramatic effect. Brian Kessler and Carrie Laughlin (David Duchovny and
Michelle Forbes) are a couple struggling to develop their respective writing and photography careers. Brian decides that Carrie should accompany him on a cross-country tour of the sites of famous killings, snapping photos to accompany his written impressions.
On parole for unspecified offenses, Early Grayce (Brad Pitt) currently gets his kicks by beating up prostitutes and killing their johns. He lives in a generic low-end trailer park with diner waitress Adele Corners (Juliette Lewis), a teen rape victim clinging to Early in a desperate bid for
security. Early decides it's time to hit the road when he spots Brian and Carrie's advertisement for riders to share expenses on their trip.
Carrie is unhappy about taking them along, and becomes increasingly uneasy as she learns more about Early, to whom she is nevertheless sexually drawn. Brian, too, has become more entranced with Early, especially after Early saves him from harrassment at a pool hall. Too late, they see a TV
broadcast about Early, and realize that he has been killing and robbing his way across the country.
The makers of KALIFORNIA bring all the exploitative aspects of commercial filmmaking to bear on this project, without any of its compensating pleasures. While the characters are neither archetypal nor cartoonish, they are also not particularly realistic. Brad Pitt's performance comes close to
being an award-winning caricature of the STRAW DOGS school of hicks-from-hell, and overshadows the other characters to the extent that their roles exist simply as counterpoints to his. Brian and Carrie are supposedly transformed by their terrifying experience, but from what into what remains a
cryptically open question, since neither is given any real depth or dimension. leave a comment