Writer-director John Sayles’s beautifully written 1996 murder-mystery neo Western thriller is long, complex and satisfying, and is one of the cult film-maker’s best movies. Sayles’s screenplay tackles the tensions in a Texas border small town.
Success is spearheaded by Chris Cooper’s inspired portrayal of Sheriff Sam Deeds, the local lawman investigating a 40-year-old skeleton found in the desert that turns out to be an ancient murder case that could be linked to his late, lawman hero dad (Kris Kristofferson).
The performance won Cooper a nomination as Best Male Lead at the 1997 Film Independent Spirit Awards, but it was Elizabeth Peña who won Best Supporting Female. Sayles was nominated for Best Screenplay at the Oscars, Golden Globes and Baftas, but did not win.
Also in the cast are Elizabeth Peña as Pilar, Matthew McConaughey as Buddy Deeds, Joe Morton, Clifton James, Stephen Mendillo, Stephen J Lang, Joe Stevens as Deputy Travis, Gonzalo Castillo, Oni Faida Lampley, Tony Frank, LaTanya Richardson, Eddie Robinson, Ron Canada, Chandra Wilson, Damon Guy, Tony Plana, Richard Jones, Tony Amendola, James Borrego, Gordon Tootoosis, Miriam Colon, Jeff Monahan and Frances McDormand.
It is shot by Stuart Dryburgh, produced by R Paul Miller and Maggie Renzi, scored by Mason Daring and designed by Dan Bishop.
© Derek Winnert 2017 Classic Movie Review 5146
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