U Turn

1997, Movie, R, 125 mins


Who'd have thought incest, murder, lust, greed, backstabbing and insanity could be so painfully boring? Oliver Stone's self-consciously postmodern gloss on novelist John Ridley's fairly straightforward narrative is a clotted mishmash of noir cliches tricked up with the sort of frantically glitzy cinematography and editing that made NATURAL BORN KILLERS such a migraine-inducing experience. No-luck gambler Bobby Cooper (Sean Penn) is on his way to Vegas to settle accounts with some volatile Russian gangsters -- the guys who cut off two of his fingers when he was a little slow to pay up -- when fate sticks out its foot and trips him up but good. A broken radiator hose lands him smack dab in middle-of-nowhereville Superior, AZ, and while inbred mechanic Darrell (Billy Bob Thornton) fixes up his car, Bobby steps right into a writhing nest of small-town vipers: two-timing bombshell Grace McKenna (Jennifer Lopez) and her scheming, much older husband Jake (Nick Nolte), who used to be married to Grace's mama (Sheri Foster) until she threw herself off a cliff; deluded white-trash tartlet Jenny (Claire Danes) and her psycho boyfriend Toby N. Tucker (Joachin Phoenix) -- they call him TNT, you know. Then there's menacing Sheriff Potter (Powers Boothe) and a wacky old Indian seer (Jon Voight) with a dead dog and an apparently endless supply of enigmatic advice; and gun-toting granny Jamilla (Aida Linares) and gum-snapping waitress Flo (Julie Haggerty). The parade of eccentrics never ends, and Stone's near-miraculous achievement is to drain the life right out of material so sordid you'd think it couldn't help but be interesting. A must to avoid. leave a comment --Maitland McDonagh

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