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Jacob Asch is hired by Gerald McMurty to find his ex-wife Laine and their son in Palm Springs. Jacob finds Laine and a teenager named Donnie who may or may not be Gerald's son. He also finds an intricate web of deceit and betrayal that begin to lead to death. He takes it upon himself to unravel the mystery and find out who is killing people and why. Written by
Josh Pasnak <email@example.com>
This movie is a coveted member of my movie library. While not a mainstream film, it is, in my view, a highly effective film noir in which Eric Roberts is totally underrated as an actor. (I would qualify him as a much better actor than his sister, Julia, who is overrated, but that's another review...) Roberts plays the down-on-his-luck ex-reporter with the perfect mix of narrative precision and jaded idealism: two ingredients that are part and parcel of any effective film noir. The first-person narration by Roberts enhances the quality of the movie, and keeps us guessing on the real motive behind the crime.
Set in Palm Springs, everything about the setting in the movie progresses slowly as a metaphor for the theme of oppression: Asch (Roberts) is oppressed by his past; the police are oppressed by the rich residents of Palm Springs who treat them as servants; the rich, meanwhile, are oppressed by boredom (watch Johnny Depp's classic performance as the insightful rich kid who only wants to be loved...); the isolation of each character is omnipresent and is further augmented by the heat and isolation of the desert.
There is an audience for this film if they're looking for a more contemporary version of film noir. While there are elements of the film that might have been tighter, I recommend getting a copy of this film and putting it right between The Big Sleep and Chinatown in your movie library. (The film is based on the Arthur Lyons book, CASTLES BURNING, and if you like Roberts's acting in this one, you may want to get a copy of The Ambulance, in which he showcases his funnier, lighter side.) BEST LINE IN THE FILM: "Careful? Careful of what? I should've asked. Only fools ignore the strange warnings of trailer park ladies."
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