Lone Star (1996)

R  |   |  Drama, Mystery  |  21 June 1996 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.6/10 from 22,346 users   Metascore: 78/100
Reviews: 171 user | 69 critic | 22 from Metacritic.com

When the skeleton of his murdered predecessor is found, Sheriff Sam Deeds unearths many other long-buried secrets in his Texas border town.



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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 15 wins & 15 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Stephen J. Lang ...
Oni Faida Lampley ...
Deputy Travis
Gonzalo Castillo ...
Tony Frank ...
Mercedes Cruz
Charlie Wade
Young Hollis


John Sayles' murder-mystery explores interpersonal and interracial tensions in Rio County, Texas. Sam Deeds is the local sheriff who is called to investigate a 40-year-old skeleton found in the desert....As Sam delves deeper into the town's dark secrets, he begins to learn more about his father, the legendary former sheriff Buddy Deeds, who replaced the corrupt Charlie Wade. While Sam puzzles out the long-past events surrounding the mystery corpse, he also longs to rekindle a romance with his old high-school flame. Sayles' complex characters are brought together as the tightly woven plot finally draws to its dramatic close. Written by Tad Dibbern <DIBBERN_D@a1.mscf.upenn.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


John Sayles invites you to return to the scene of the crime.


Drama | Mystery

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for brief language, sex and violence | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

21 June 1996 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Estrella solitaria  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$5,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$3,845,000 (USA) (19 July 1996)


$13,269,963 (USA) (10 January 1997)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The hands seen laying out the bones in this movie belong to David Glassman, a forensic anthropologist at Southwest Texas State University. See more »


A woman mentions that a high school football player runs the 40-yard dash in 3.4 seconds. This is highly unlikely, as most of the records for the fastest 40-yard dash are around 4 seconds flat. See more »


[first lines]
Cliff: [cataloging the flora] We got cenizo, that's purple sage, agave, nopal... What's that stuff? Yeah that's it, that's whatchamacallit. That's horse crippler.
Mikey: This place is a gold mine.
Cliff: Lead mine.
See more »


References Pulp Fiction (1994) See more »


Written by Little Walter (as Little Walter Jacobs)
Performed by Little Walter
See more »

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User Reviews

Sayles' Masterpiece
13 December 2000 | by (Las Vegas) – See all my reviews

I just bought this movie on DVD and watched it for the first time in a couple of years, and once again it amazed me. While most scripts stumble recklessly from one hackneyed plot device to another, "Lone Star" flows like a steady, winding river, never letting the viewer see too far downstream. The spine of the film is Sherrif Sam Deed's investigation into a thirty-year-old murder, yet this story is quickly absorbed by many finely scripted subplots and an overall theme on the futility of trying to escape history. While most directors can't help but show off when using flashy camera movement and jumps in continuity, Sayles employs such a subtle directing style that his leaps in time and location are seamless. Sayles fleshes out his script with subplots on racism, national pride, censorship, generation gaps, politics, social revisionism, and on and on. Most directors don't tackle this many topics in a career, yet Sayles juggles them all in one film without jamming them down the audiences' throats. If the subplots in Sayles' "City of Hope" were connected like a series of dominos, here they are gently woven together like a colorful, well-worn Southwestern quilt. The love story between Chris Cooper and Elizabeth Pena is both wistful and steamy. The film's social conscience is compelling. The father/son conflict between Otis and Delmore Payne (Ron Canada and Joe Morton) feels totally realistic. The dialoge is concise and insightful. Fate hangs over every character and every moment. Plus "Lone Star" has one of my favorite "final scenes", one that perfectly sums up the ironies of the film. It is simply one of the best movies I have ever seen.

81 of 88 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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Lacked a certain visual style.. henriz1-1
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