Colors (1988)

reviewed by
Jeff Meyer

                         A film review by Jeff Meyer
                          Copyright 1988 Jeff Meyer

After all the hoopla going on in the press and elsewhere, I came out without much of an impression of the film as narrative entertainment. As a story of a particular group of people living in a particular area based in reality, I certainly can't comment on it's validity (having never ventured into L.A., much less East L.A.) other than it didn't seem to eject logic at any point. I didn't form any idealized portraits of the gangs (or the police); the movie's main intention apparently was to outline the gang life there and the tragedy that it produces. It doesn't blame any central reasons for the gang problem, nor does it provide panaceas or easy answers for the problem. It basically tries to snatch up a microcosm of this area, and (admittedly ignorant of the area) it seemed successful in that.

So much energy is being used to keep things focussed that other elements, like characters and story, are kept in the background. Not out of negligence, I think; I think it's Hopper's method to view the forest instead of the trees, though he does some pretty impressive landscaping. None of the actors stand out, but all of them seem to fit their roles like a glove. Duvall adds the usual personal quirks to his character that he's famous for, but that just seems to add more reality to him. Penn plays the young, brash officer who sees the gangs as opponents decently. Of the other actors, most fill the characters to the brim without glomming the spotlight; only Trinidad Silva (Henry Silva's son?) seems to draw attention whenever he's on camera, something he used to do on Hill Street Blues when playing Jesus Martinez, the gang leader of the Diablos. The man is hopelessly type-cast, but, like Edward G. Robinson, he brings a fascination to the archetype again and again.

I felt it was worth the $2.50 I paid for admission -- in fact, $3.50 would have been fine -- but it's aftermath is reflection, not emotional stimulation. Take that into account...

                                        Moriarty, aka Jeff Meyer
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