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Lone Star
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Reviews & Ratings for
Lone Star More at IMDbPro »

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77 out of 84 people found the following review useful:

Sayles' Masterpiece

10/10
Author: ProfessorFate from Las Vegas
13 December 2000

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.

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80 out of 90 people found the following review useful:

One of the best movies ever.

10/10
Author: cstoll7003
6 July 2004

This just ran tonight on HBO. I haven't watched it in a few years now. Lone Star has, if anything, improved with each viewing, which is really saying something because I remember how truly riveted and fulfilled I was on its first viewing in the theater. This is film-making at its very best.

This must be one of the all time greatest pieces of writing for the cinema. Period. So many characters are here and they're all richly developed and mined to make you think even more about the film's many themes. The story just hooks you right from the start and is utterly absorbing, and the layers of subplots and meanings reach dizzying heights of complexity and poignancy without sacrificing entertainment value. You practically walk away from the film saying "yes, for once someone has something to say and it's said so eloquently". To me, Lone Star is one of the masterpieces of American movies.

This has one of the greatest final lines that I've ever seen in a movie. That last line illuminates everything that has come before it in a way that is both shattering and ironic. The performances are uniformly superb, and you can just imagine what the cast was thinking, with the opportunity to perform this piece. All the technical aspects are first rate, which makes you truly wonder why movies cost so much in Hollywood. The music is outstanding. But at the end of the day, it's the incredible writing here that lingers. The second half of the movie pays off in spades due to the development of the many characters and sub plots that are so brilliantly interwoven. The movies Lone Star reminds me of most are The Last Picture Show, Chinatown, and Nashville. Take my word; if you like any of those pictures and haven't had the distinct pleasure of seeing Lone Star, please give it a chance. You will not be disappointed.

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57 out of 60 people found the following review useful:

A rich tapestry – 2 hours flew by

Author: bob the moo from United Kingdom
5 April 2003

The discovery of a skull and a sheriff's badge on a disused military firing range prompts Sheriff Sam Deeds to investigate. Sam has long lived in the shadow of his father Buddy, himself the sheriff at one time. However clues point to the fact that the skull may belong to Charley Wade, the corrupt sheriff who `vanished' to Mexico when Deeds challenged him many years prior. However when Sam begins to ask questions that go deeper than the legends, he finds secrets within the border town that hit very near home.

Having just watched The Hi Lo Country (a modern day western with a sprawling story but focused on one thing), I was put in mind to watch Lone Star again. Lone Star is easily the superior film and is a rich weaving of many characters and stories all around one event. The one event is the uncovering of an old murder (possibly) and this central investigation holds the attention easily. Within this investigation and the lives that Buddy affected we are shown a lot of subplots – some followed through, others just giving us enough background to understand the characters. All of these work very well and as a result you don't feel like the film is wandering when it moves away from the investigation by Sam. The subplots are so well translated that we are given a lot of back story to complex characters in a very short time.

For the script to be able to create so many characters that feel real and that have meaningful things going on is impressive. That it makes them all work is amazing and is due to Sayles both writing and editing. As director he is great as well, avoiding the washed out desert feel many `Mexico related' films have and instead goes for richer colours that reflect the rich mix of communities that are in his story.

The acting is faultless all round. No one actor stands out regardless of screen time simply because no one goes over the top and everyone realises they are playing part of a story – even Cooper (realistically the nearest thing to a lead actor) plays it down rather than taking the film over. Morton is good even if his character is the least connected to the investigation, McConaughey is strong despite being little more than a cameo, likewise with Kristofferson. McDormand has a small role but is very impressive as Deeds' ex-wife. Elizabeth Peña, so often dumped with almost token Espanic roles is given a real good part and works with it well. I could list them all, however if any one person stands out it can only be Sayles himself – he takes all the strands and brings them together. I watched a 90 minutes comedy earlier the same day that had dragged. At 130 minutes this simply flew – it is that engrossing.

Overall some will find it too slow, too character driven, sadly some will just not sit through a good story if that's all there is to it (all!). I think this was reflected in poor box office at the time (comparatively poor anyway). But those who have seen it will generally love it – if only more people would watch it! A final word on the film – the ending is shocking and sensationalist on paper and a lesser man would have made a big deal out of it. Sayles simply ends the film softly and leaves us the audience to take what we will from it. Low key from start to finish – I can't praise it enough.

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41 out of 44 people found the following review useful:

The sins of the fathers come back to haunt

Author: Bill Anderson (anderson@nehp.net) from New Hope, Alabama USA
31 January 1999

John Sayles' direction of this film reminded me of Hitchcock in that I was always aware of the director's style and I enjoyed it every bit as much as the acting and the story. Like "Godfather," this is a tale of families and how the sins of the fathers cast their shadows over the generations. To illustrate the connection, Sayles will slowly track his camera from a conversation in one part of a room to another part of the same room where characters who lived 25 years earlier are conversing. The years have passed, we realize, but all the characters, even the dead ones, are in this together. The technique may sound strange, but it works magically. And another thing: I've always thought Kris Kristofferson was a better singer than actor, and a better songwriter than singer. But in this film he turns in an outstanding performance as a very very bad Texas border town sheriff who disappeared years ago and whose bones have just turned up in the desert. At least we think those are his bones, and to solve the puzzle, the current sheriff, son of the man who became sheriff when Kris disappeared, must dig further than he wants into the town's secrets. And once again, knowing how the film ends makes subsequent viewings just as fascinating as the first.

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37 out of 43 people found the following review useful:

John Sayles' best movie

10/10
Author: Lee Eisenberg (lee.eisenberg.pdx@gmail.com) from Portland, Oregon, USA
19 October 2005

"Lone Star" was John Sayles' first look at a state, followed by "Limbo" (Alaska), "Sunshine State" (Florida) and "Silver City" (Colorado). This one focuses on a border town in Texas, and the influences of and conflicts between the white, black and Hispanic populations there. It starts when they discover the remains of racist Sheriff Charlie Wade (Kris Kristofferson), murdered under mysterious circumstances many years earlier; Sheriff Sam Deeds (Chris Cooper) leads the investigation. In the process of everything, we get to see - among other things - the battle over education in the Lone Star State: the school only wants to teach the white people's side of history, but Pilar Cruz (Elizabeth Pena) wants to teach it from the Mexican point of view. As it is, this town carries many secrets, many of which are about to blow open. This was, in my opinion, John Sayles' greatest movie ever. It is not to be missed.

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37 out of 43 people found the following review useful:

Great movie -- one of the few I watch over and over.

10/10
Author: swhite-14 from San Antonio, Texas
8 July 2005

I live in San Antonio and have been to Eagle Pass (where the movie was filmed) many times. I have watched this movie over a dozen times. It is a wonderful piece of film-making! John Sayles captures a lot in this film. His characters have depth and substance. His portrayals of the role racism has played in Hispanic and African-American lives are brilliant but not heavy-handed. The acting is incredible. The casting was perfect. Frances McDormand as Sam's ex-wife is unforgettable. I agree with another commenter that the camera work was exceptional when Sayles filmed flashback scenes using a single take. I especially liked the scene along the river with Sam and Pilar. I am sure there are some people who don't share my opinion, but this movie is one of my top ten favorites of all time.

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24 out of 26 people found the following review useful:

Brilliant

9/10
Author: shark-43 from L.A. CA
13 September 2001

Ive always admired Sayles as a writer and a filmmaker. His early films (Secaucus 7, Brother from Another Planet) even though they were rough and messy had wit and brilliant acting, but when he gets it right, he gets it right: Matewan and City of Hope are two examples of multi-layered stories with believable three-dimensional people in powerful situations. Lone Star is an amazing film: characters that are on screen for even a few minutes come of as real people, flesh and blood, no cardboard cut-outs here. Great performances from Chris Cooper, Kris Kristofferson, Elizabeth Pena, Joe Morton and many, many more. Taut, funny, thrilling and emotional. Great film by a great talent.

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18 out of 21 people found the following review useful:

An entrancing yarn.

9/10
Author: mhasheider from Sauk City, Wisconsin
15 October 2001

An entrancing yarn that takes place in a small, quiet Texas border town where the memories of two former lawmen, the crooked Charlie Wade (Kris Kristofferson) and the legendary Buddy Deeds (Matthew McConaughey) are slowly resurrected when the remains of Wade are found on an deserted Army firing range by Deeds' son, Sam (Chris Cooper), who is the current town sheriff. Throughout the movie, Sam visits some of the locals and asks each one if they knew what happened to Wade and if Buddy had a role in the murder. Writer-director-editor John Sayles serves up an unpredictable gem here with a great cast that includes Joe Morton, Elisabeth Pena, Frances McDormand, etc., and to me, it seems like nearly all the characters here make sense right up to the end.

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14 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

A good watch for those who missed it in 1996.

7/10
Author: George Parker from Orange County, CA USA
7 April 2002

In "Lone Star", a skull is found in an isolated part of a Texas border county which begins an investigation by the local Sheriff who must unlock a closet full of skeletons to solve the mystery. Critically acclaimed and a high scoring flick on this website, "Lone Star" is a film to be reckoned with. It features solid performances without the usual blockbuster star power, an engaging story, a real feel, and masterful editing which allows for a seamless presentation of the numerous flashbacks required to tell the story. You'll find little emoting or little reason to emote in this matter-of-fact contemporary film which ends with a kicker. Worth a look for just about anyone mature enough for the subject matter.

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19 out of 27 people found the following review useful:

Best Movie of 1996

10/10
Author: campblood13 from Austin, TX
6 August 2003

The flashbacks with Kris Kristofferson are some of the most moving and brilliant scenes on film. He should have got an Oscar nomination. Chris Cooper and Elizabeth Pena have great romantic chemistry. There is so much more going on just besides the mystery of who killed Charlie Wade so many years ago. All the actors are wonderful, in a great setting, and great script. The ending is my favorite part, when the biggest secret of all is revealed. It shows that love can overcome anything. 10/10

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