Breathless

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“Don’t mess with Texans…”

breathlessThere’s something almost theatrical about this, because virtually the entire film takes place in a single location, the downscale home of Lorna (Gershon), who has just knocked her husband Dale (Kilmer) out with a frying-pan, after discovering he was apparently involved in a bank robbery which netted $100,000. She has now called over her best friend, local barmaid Tiny (Giddish), to try and decide what to do next, with the first step being to find the loot, which Lorna is convinced Dale has hidden somewhere in their home. However, the local sheriff (Liotta) is also sniffing around, being fully aware of Dale’s fondness for armed robbery in his younger days. It’s not long before the dead bodies are piling up, requiring alternative uses to be found for the turkey carver and industrial-strength blender. And that’s just the start of the unpleasantness.

This felt like a chattier version of 2LDK, both in the restricted setting, and its focus on the friendship between two women, which disintegrates over the course of proceedings. There’s also more than a whiff of the Coen Brothers to be found here, in particular Raising Arizona with its dimwitted criminal staggering from one calamity into another. And the opening sequence is shamelessly cribbed from Dexter, cutting together breakfast preparation, in a way that foreshadows the carnage to come. It’s kinda hard to say what Baget is bringing of himself to proceedings. However, Gershon is her usual, impressive self, infusing her character with unspoken backstory, It’s clear the ill-gotten gains represent her last chance to escape the rural hellhole down which her life has spun, and she’ll go to any lengths to make sure she gets her hands on them. Discovering what that means, is the engine that keeps the film going, driven by her performance far more than a script which seems content to shuffle over-familiar elements around, and hope we won’t notice.

With the self-imposed limitations, the movie paints itself into a corner with regard to where it can go. And the result is, when the inevitable twists come along – and, inevitable they are, in the kind of film this sets out to be – they generate not much more than a shrug of indifference. Probably remains worth watching for Gershon’s performance, and some other powerhouses of 90’s cinema trying to recapture their glory days, but only if you can handle a tired and worn-out plot.

Dir: Jesse Baget
Star: Gina Gershon, Kelli Giddish, Val Kilmer, Ray Liotta

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