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Anita is a high-school girl who frequently allows random boys and men to have sex with her, and is frequently raped by her absentee mother's boyfriend. As part of a school assignment Anita takes up correspondence with a lonely young prison inmate, whose letters stir up dormant desires for violence and guns. After buying herself a firearm, Anita convinces her mother's boyfriend to teach her how to use it, and, after he rapes her again, shoots him to death and hides the body. She then sets about getting her new "boyfriend" out of jail and to her, where she slowly drags him with her on her downward spiral of sex, violence, and murder for the sake of murder. Written by
Guncrazy is directed by Tamra Davis and written by Matthew Bright. It stars Drew Barrymore, James Legros, Ione Skye, Michael Ironside, Joe Dallesandro and Billy Drago. Music is by Ed Tomney and cinematography by Lisa Rinzer.
"Love made them crazy. Guns made them outlaws!"
High schooler Anita Minteer (Barrymore) is abused at home and at school and by so called friends. Seeking some sort of solace, she befriends - via letters - a convict named Howard (Legros). When Howard is paroled, the pair hook up and quickly find a loving bond. A bond that also involves a passion for guns...
In spite of reports in some quarters, this is not a remake of Joseph H. Lewis' superb film noir of the same name (though the words gun and crazy are separated there) from 1950. Whilst it's also worth mentioning that it's not a knock-off of Bonnie and Clyde (outstanding and trailblazing pic for sure), because for that to be the case we would have to ignore the fact that Lewis' film, and the likes of They Live by Night (Nicolas Ray - 1948) , were not key influences and big movers in the lovers on the lam splinter of noir. It is of course, an amalgamation of said influences, and despite a relatively average rating on the big internet movie sites, this is a neo-noir well worth seeking out for those so inclined.
Students of classic era film noir can't but help to be pulled in by the many deviance's at work, themes involving sexual abuse, promiscuity, impotence, alienation, prostitution and foolish love, the latter pitching a classic noir character into a vortex from which they in all probability know they can't return from. It's not that Anita is a femme fatale, because she's so young and isn't written as a viper type, it's that her youthful ignorance, her teenage hormones tortured by a torrid upbringing, is enough for Howard to grasp onto as a semblance of normality. They are both fools, but honest with it, it's the classic romanticised dream going sour. Again, a classic film noir trait.
Visually there is much to recommend here. The use of slatted shadows and balustrade is cunning and nods appreciatively to influences past, the inference obviously that Howard may be out of prison, but he's still behind bars. Davis throws in a number of striking scenes, a camera shot looking out as a grave is dug, our lovers close and personal (sexy) as they shoot guns, and the finale has a sad grace that, "again," noir lovers can appreciate. Matthew Bright's screenplay also has black comedy elements, the script devious with Freudian smarts, while the cast turn in performances worthy of the form.
OK! So this formula has been done better before, and yes we want more of Ironside and Drago (wonderful characters), and this may have underwhelmed those after a gun crazy action thriller - while Barrymore fans back in the day may have been bemused - but it's a very smart and neatly constructed neo-noir. 7.5/10
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