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Michelle Pfeiffer plays a middle-class 60s housewife who idolizes
Jackie O. When JFK is assassinated, she leaves her husband and road
trips to his funeral to show solidarity with her icon. Along the way
she meets a black man (Dennis Haysbert) and his young daughter. She
immediately befriends them but realizes they are hiding a secret. Soon
she is swept up in their lives and finds herself on the run from the
This is the best performance I've ever seen by Pfeiffer. She is practically unrecognizable--her southern accent is perfect and her Jackie O-inspired look is classic. She adds a welcome dose of humor to a film that is often emotionally overwhelming. The movie alternates between adorable and disturbing, but never gets too extreme either way. The plot gets a bit contrived at times, but the movie serves to question the comfort of routine middle-class existence, so it works. I am surprised this is not a well-known film. It is one of the best ones I've seen from the early 90s.
My Rating: 8/10.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
My Stars, my "One line summary" sounds camp, but this picture was truly lovely and very moving for me.
I had seen it years ago, as I am a fan of anything involving period re-creations, but seeing it again recently moved me way past the perfect 1963 backgrounds and the Melmac cups in the kitchen cupboards...
This review may contain *spoilers*, so Viewer Beware.
Michelle Pfieffer portrays a woman obsessed with the glamour of the Kennedy family, particularly Jackie, and is thrilled to catch a glimpse of her as the First Couple arrive at Dallas Love Field Airport on November 22 of '63. Circumstances (humorous ones, at that, in the form of fabulously annoying character actress Peggy Rea) don't allow for her brush with celebrity, and of course the assassination crushes her. Her husband is less than sympathetic as she explains her need to attend the funeral. She escapes anyway, and catches a bus to Washington. She meets up with a black man and his young daughter (Dennis Haysbert and Stephanie McFadden) and the journey becomes very complicated indeed. Intrigue and mystery cloud his initial introduction, however Pfieffer's character is concerned for him, especially for the daughter's welfare. Soon the trio are entwined, and stubborn ethics keep them from abandoning one another. This is when they are suddenly on their own, and the story takes off.
Visually, the mixture is wonderful - the extremely "white" and VERY blonde Pfieffer, trying her hardest to look like Jackie even down to her home-made suits, and the curious "coloured man" and his silent, somewhat frightened daughter. Both actors are absolutely excellent as two individuals who become literal victims of their own time. There are the subtle vocal references to the child as "a coloured girl" by Pfieffer, who holds no prejudice but simply talks the way everyone else does; and then the stronger and much more "controversial" implications of the man and the woman and any kind of a relationship they may have, however shadowed by the mores of the early 60's, the confusion and upset the World is undergoing due to Kennedy's murder, and even the geographic locales they travel through.
We are reminded that Pfieffer's character is still a married, albeit unhappily, woman of principle, and that the mere sight of an interracial couple in that time would cause near hysterics - still we WANT them to overcome it all, and the fact that the very human need for love has to be compromised by the times is communicated intensely yet with enough restraint that the characters do not suffer being imbued with too much "foresight."
Stephanie McFadden as the 6-year-old daughter is incredible as well, her facial expressions saying so much more than the six or seven lines she speaks in the whole picture. Her poignant close ups drive the viewer to WILL her to understand, to see what is happening around her, comprehend it, see beyond it, but of course she cannot. Much of the story is this way, one wants to just clear away the limitations and the social ills and let them all BE. There are moments of tension (rednecks [they are even credited as such!] that pass the couple on the road and then come back to stir up trouble) balanced by those of palpable relief (a curious, inexpressive old woman and her retired husband, who take the three in for a night). This is sufficient to provide a realistic level of suspense, even angst, but it is the triumph of overcoming barriers, whether they are bad husbands who just don't know any better, or suspicious and bigoted backwoods policemen, that make for the emotions one experiences while watching.
This picture left me wondering who and where these brilliant people are, the writer, Don Roos, and dual-producers Sarah Pillsbury and Midge Sanford, and particularly director Jonathan Kaplan. Why haven't we heard of these folks, and why wasn't this beautiful film hailed in 1992? Rarely, very rarely, have I seen a picture that left me wanting to personally congratulate the folks directly responsible for it!
Needless to say, but important to emphasize, production values shine in all forms, as the film contains some spectacular period-recreations of downtown Dallas and other townships, even down to the store-front displays and seas of vintage vehicles buzzing around (Oliver Stone eat your heart out!), and the shockingly realistic Love Field Airport scenes, complete with the obligatory Pink Nubbly Suit on an incredible Jackie K. look-alike, are stunning. The interiors, the magazines in the racks, everything, is spot on; and the photography is breathtaking, as unpicturesque as a bus in the middle of Nowhere, Virginia, may seem to be.
A splendid, highly recommended motion picture in ALL regards.
Multiple stars. Much praise!
This movie is not only tells the story of the accidental connection of two people, one black and one white, who would probably have never met in their normal lives, it also presents a vivid portrait of the time in which they lived. Set against the background of the JFK assassination and the aftermath, the protagonists meet and help each other through turning points in their lives. At first wary of each other, they come to understand the forces which have shaped each other's personalities and then come to appreciate the humanity and longing they have in common. Segregation and prejudice on both sides are explored without preaching. Finally it ends if not happily at least on a note of hope.
An obsessed beautician heads for DC when JFK is assassinated. Along the
way, she loses her husband, but finds something within herself she
never knew was there; courage and fortitude.
Fraught with dangers only our parents remember, this film shows you what the US was like back in the late 50's, early 60's. It also teaches us that we haven't changed that much, as a nation, in the last 50 years.
Michelle Pfeiffer, Dennis Haysbert, and Stephanie McFadden endear with their honesty in this gripping drama by Jonathan Kaplan (Project X, the Firm, and Bad Girls). The performances are heartening and lends us hope that things genuinely CAN improve in the future. Not necessarily that they will, but that it is possible, should we apply our hearts to the problem.
This is a great film, though you have to be in the right mood for it.
It rates an 8.2/10 from...
the Fiend :.
I loved this movie! Pfieffer's child-like naiveté is beautifully balanced with the mature competence of Dennis Haysbert's character. This is the first time I'd ever seen Haysbert and I've been a fan ever since. Something about that man...the viewer understands why she falls for him. I ached for both characters. The movie stirs up some feelings about injustice, racism, oppressed women -- a memory of those times but not nostalgia for them. The ending soothes and satisfies all that was stirred up. Love Fields uses only a few people and not a lot of scenery to tell its story, but its quite enough. It is, essentially, a love story -- unexpected, but so right. The period (mid-60's)is well-established and well-maintained. See this movie!
In 1963 Dallas, a Jackie Kennedy-obsessed beautician hopes to travel by bus to JFK's funeral, but gets involved instead with a troubled black man and his estranged little girl. Handsome production, nice details, but a curiously minor film that never quite kicks into gear. Occasionally, the way the racial prejudices are shown--from both black and white characters--is heavy-handed, though director Jonathan Kaplan does subtle work as well, performing a nimble balancing act while the screenplay works overtime being "heated" and "emotional". Michelle Pfeiffer's performance is alternately grating, unconventional, sweet and perplexing; we don't get to know her Lurene too well, and the actress has to rely on shtick for some of her major scenes; Dennis Haysbert as her traveling companion is a tower of quiet strength, and his handsome, aw-shucks smile isn't over-used. The plot is wrapped up neatly at the end, a tricky feat since the finale takes place some 12 months from the rest of the story--a gimmick that doesn't always work, but here it satisfies the viewer by showing lives changed and what might lay ahead. Potentially a heady mix of race-relations and something even deeper (and no-less complicated): forbidden love. Yet the picture somehow whittles down these complex issues into a road-movie formula. ** from ****
"Love Field" was a film that came and went without much fanfare. It was
shown on cable recently, so we decided to take a chance with it.
Jonathan Kaplan makes an impression with his unusual take on the
subject of the race relations in the United States of the early 60s
that pays a great deal of respect to the era in which it takes place.
The film shows how things were in this country in the years where
segregation was still enforced in the land.
If you haven't watched the movie, please stop reading now.
Lurene, the young woman at the center of the story was in awe of Mrs. Jacqueline Kennedy. The former first lady had such magnetic quality and charisma that it was easy to see why she was so admired and imitated by all women in America in the early 60s. After all, Mrs. Kennedy was royalty in a country that supposedly has no class differences. Jackie's sense of style was imitated by most women; after all, she was an elegant, vibrant and youthful woman who all wanted to adore.
The story presents a situation that rings false from the beginning. Lurene was only a step above of what would be considered white trash, therefore, her relationship with Paul Cater and Jonell, is hard to believe because of the woman's background. Lurene is kind hearted, but one wonders to what extend would someone in her station in life would have done in a real situation like the director presents in the picture.
As far as what we watch in the film, making allowances for Lurene's open mind and understanding about segregation and discrimination, the movie is easy to watch. In pairing Michelle Pfeiffer with a handsome Dennis Haysbert, who has already been seen in a similar role in "Far from Heaven", one can see why these two lost souls were attracted to one another. We can understand Lurene's sense of decency, as well as Paul's falling for Lurene when reason and logic would tell him to stay away from this white woman. Even in the big Northern cities where racial discrimination was not as blatant as in the deep South, integrated couples were a rarity in the early 60s.
Michelle Pfeiffer makes a compelling Lurene, the girl who is a decent human being. This role is a stretch for Ms. Pfeiffer, an actress not associated with dramatic parts that make such demands on her. Dennis Haysbert is good as the troubled Paul, a man that only wants to do his best for this daughter he is bringing back to Philadelphia. Stephanie McFadden is sweet as the young girl who can't comprehend what's going on around her. Finally, Louise Latham, as Mrs. Enright, is the only one that shows any decency to the situation in which she gets involved against her will.
While the movie doesn't break any grounds in racial relations, at least it has the courage to show how wrong segregation was and how prevalent it was in the United States.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I'm speechless. The acting was sentimental on Michell's part, but who's wasn't when JFK got shot. She had a hum-drum life with a man that knew nothing about compassion or empathy toward others. He was only interested in himself and whether or not she'd stay with him. He could not understand the importance of her wanting to "pay her respects" to he late President. Her character actually GROWS in this movie, and she begins to fall in love (maternially) with the black man's daughter. (Not to mention the black man......hot!) In the end, I actually thought they were heading their separate ways, but then you see her car return to where the man's daughter is staying. Now that is true romance, and it goes against most of society which hints, "Stick with your own kind,"and I like the fact that she decided to return to him where she felt herself and safe.
This movie was marvelous! It shows the racial tension that existed (and still does exist, making this movie timeless) and shows how two people overcome that tension to build a great friendship! It teaches a lesson but it is also just great to watch!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Love Field is the kind of movie where you just know the words `set against
the backdrop' were used in its pitch: A love story between a black man and a
white woman, set against the backdrop of the Kennedy assassination. It's
not a particularly comfortable mix of ideas.
What's strange is that it handles both threads rather well, if taken separately. The sense of shock at the assassination feels genuine for the most part, mainly because of the inclusion of a contemporary news clip as the newsreader struggles to find words and clear his throat as he announces Kennedy's death.
The love story is rather less successful, but comes close to being touching every so often. As Michelle Pfeiffer makes her way to the Kennedy funeral, she meets Dennis Haysbert and his daughter on a long-distance coach. Their growing fondness for each other is mostly convincing, and we should be grateful that there is no mutual-animosity to change to affection, an idea so old it can ruin a movie immediately.
Regardless of their individual merits, combine these threads together and the movie starts to unravel. Its heart is in the right place so it can't really be called tasteless, but it skirts the edges a little too often. In one scene we have to switch from the travellers spending a restful night at a friend's house to them watching the TV as Lee Harvey Oswald is shot. This kind of uncomfortable transition is made a number of times, and grates on each of them, none more so than in the climax, when Jackie Kennedy looks at Pfeiffer as she is driven past her on the way to her husband's funeral. Its intention was certainly not to trivialise the assassination, but too often it seemed to be used for dramatic effect in an otherwise unrelated love story.
The film seemed to lack confidence; believing that its main story was simply not interesting enough, it included racism, segregation, wife-beating, kidnapping and child abuse for good measure. These darker tones were treated with the gentle touch as everything else, which didn't earn them the credibility they deserved.
Love Field probably aimed too high. It just didn't have the weight to carry off the issues it dealt with or the messages it tried to send out. Had the assassination been played down it could have been a great love story. Had the love story been played down it could have been a great story about segregation. Had segregation been played down it could have been a great movie about the impact of the assassination on the lives of ordinary people. It tried to be all these things together, and together they weakened their own credibility.
It seems harsh to include these criticisms of a movie that was lightweight and mostly enjoyable, but that was the problem; a film that dealt with these issues shouldn't have been lightweight or enjoyable. Its tone wasn't dark enough to pull them off. It was a nice enough movie, with good performances from Pfeiffer and Haysbert, but it asked too much of itself and forced us to ask the same.
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