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|Index||17 reviews in total|
I hope this movie receives more attention now that it's on video. Robert Forster gives a great performance that anchors the film. Also, the casting director has populated this effort with a very talented cast that is willing to go as far as the story requires. Yes, the road movie is a tired genre but I think the performances elevate the movie above its premise.8 out of 10.
Tricksy psychological thriller where no one is what they seems, nor indeed
do they do what they seem!
It's well cast (almost perfekt, in fact) with the performers seeming to enjoy themselves in their roles. Angela Plummer & David Thewlis are no strangers to playing off-the-wall characters and excel as always, but it's Robert Forster who steals the film and shows along with his superb performance in "Jackie Brown" what an under-rated character actor he is.
If I've one criticism to make it's that when the characters are a little better revealed halfway through the film some of the tension dissipates a little but the plot keeps twisting and turning to the very end.
Worth a couple of hours of your time.
Robert Forster is good as Jake, a psychiatrist who picks up a woman named
Sandra, after her car is run off a desert road. Jake likes to make most of
his decisions on the toss of a coin. The duo run into a confidence
named Santini, and that's when the fun and games begin.
Jake soon hooks up with Sandra's sister Alice, who is supposed to meet Sandra in a diner. Jake then has a few surprises in store for Alice. The film isn't very long, and doesn't out stay its welcome. A blackly humourous road movie that is well worth seeing. The film clearly has its tongue firmly planted in its cheek.
A remarkable film that captures what it is like to suffer from obsessive
compulsivity and blossoming insanity. As a psychologist, I can verify
Forster plays his role to perfection, capturing the confusion of his
character, a confusion that only the one time chance flip of a coin can
The cast is all star and very good performances are turned in by Balk, Plummer, Sorvino and Gleason, especially by Sorvino of the long suffering sheriff.
As a road picture/slice of life film, this excels. See it and note the verbal and nonverbal characteristics of the Forster character. This film is a winner at all levels.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I can see why this movie gets so many different reactions. It's full of
odd plot line decisions and strange pacing, likely to confuse as many
people as it excites. For me, it's two main flaws were the way it was
written, almost like two 45 minute shorts spliced together, and the
fact that it ends abruptly in an unsatisfying manner.
However, the fact that it ends in such an unsatisfactory manner comes largely from how it gripped me up to that ending. This movie is saved by an utterly convincing turn from Fairuza Balk. Together with Robert Forster as a lunatic doctor obsessed with chance, she drags the movie out of the 'okay for a quick watch psycho-thriller' rut it was so obviously heading into without her.
As the sister of the doctor's last victim, who winds up riding cross county with him, all the while unaware of her sister's body shoved in his trunk, Balk is riveting. In all honesty I can't think of a movie off the top of my head she wasn't good in, and she saves the film.
However, in the event you don't enjoy the interplay between her and Forster, there may not be too much in this film for you. Also worth noting is the fact that Balk is not introduced until halfway through the movie, meaning that you could lose interest before she turns up.
Basically, I enjoyed this movie a lot once it got going, but the first half is really just setup, and pretty slow setup at that. However, the second half of the movie is very good, even if it does end in a way that doesn't really explain much of anything. This is a loosely plotted oddity that is saved by excellent turns from it's leads. If you watch without expecting miracles, I'm sure you'll have a good enough time with it.
I'd heard so many different opinions about this movie. At first it sounded
like just another psycho-killer road movie (although with a cast of some
the greatest actors around) but then it got chosen for the Cannes film
festival and won a bunch of other 'serious' awards. Anyway, one night my
and dad saw it at a festival and when they got home they were arguing like
mad - my dad (who hates EVERYTHING) called it a masterpiece - my mom said
freaked her out and shouldn't have been made! After that I didn't know
to expect but I knew I had to see it. Well, tonight I did and oh my God,
turned me upside-down. I wouldn't go so far as to call 'American Perfekt'
masterpiece, but it's smart, funny, beautifully acted and directed, and
moments of such straight-faced hilariously chilling brilliance that it
me remember why I love movies. I won't try and explain the plot in detail
but Amanda Plummer plays a woman lost in the desert after her car is
off the road by a mysterious car. She gets picked up by a criminal
psychiatrist and a strange romance develops between them based on making
their decisions on the flip of a coin. Plummer is better than I've seen
since 'The Fisher King' (and even more beautiful) and Robert Forster is
AWESOME! Better even than 'Jackie Brown'. David Thewlis is alternately
funny, creepy and downright sad. And watch out for Chris Sarandon, too, as
gentle Deputy to Paul Sorvino's gung-ho Sheriff - a great performance that
reminds us why he got nominated for an Oscar once (Dog Day Afternoon). The
gorgeous Fairuza Balk is also excellent in a really intense performance
more mature than the usual flashier stuff she gets asked to do. Yeah,
'American Perfekt' starts off slowly but only because it's lulling you
a false state of security while it's crawling under your skin. And
writer/director Paul Chart pulls it off without resorting to being 'above'
his audience ie: despite all the clever different layers to the film, you
never feel like it's trying to prove how smart it is - also, everyone
looks like they're having fun. All in all, 'American Perfekt' isn't so
a psycho 'art film' as a really neat and original movie that's been
'artfully made'. Give it chance and don't be afraid to laugh at how
nightmarish it becomes. A warning to the faint-hearted, however - although
Chart keeps the sex and violence fairly low-key, it has a habit of coming
out of nowhere and is presented in such a matter-of fact way that it WILL
stay with you (just ask my mom). There's another great score from Simon
boswell, too ('Shallow Grave', 'Trainspotting').
Now, where did I put that shovel ....?
I would like to have all the footage as shot from the start to the
finish of American Purfkt. There were many times where the scenes that
are not seen beyond the final cut come vividly to my memory .the gas
station shot,of the coin that stood up on end after a toss,the true
romance on the trip by Amanda and Robert, or when the 9mm fell apart in
Chris's hand while the two other were hanging from the rafters,or when
the barn burned down and the hurried prep to the new barn across the
freeway,or how Ferusa kept loosing her sunglasses in the strangest
places, Paul Sorvino's heated anger while viewing my redirected Shot
gun clearing of the store . or the dog in the trash can scene or the
beer bottle that flew from payroll into the pool parallel to all of us
waiting in line,or dolly Dan and Bill Wages slippery seat incident .
39 days in the Palmdale aria and 6 for the wrap. I miss them all.Included were the pooI side chats with Ivan .I last met him at the Russian knights film festival.. If you look real hard you may have a quick glimpse of me in the barn. I would have gave more to the vote If the edit was a little different and that the scenes shot that were not included over the top cop chase scenes with Paul Sorvino.
The 1990's were, for a time, a very exciting decade for cinema.
Staggering out of the 80's with a coke hangover and indulgence fatigue,
we experienced somewhat of a revolution in cinema. What was once
ridiculously overblown and self-aggrandising became understated,
simplified and strayed from the norm somewhat. We started referencing
movies within our movies, we turned our attention to the exploitation
cinema of the preceding decades and the film noir of the early half of
the 20th century.
One of the sub-genres which grew substantially in popularity was the road movie. The likes of True Romance (1993), Natural Born Killers (1994), Thelma & Louise (1991) and Kalifornia (1993) popularised the concept of taking the actions out of the city and onto the highways. This gave the movies a sense of freedom and adventure which is of course, the very ideals which America was founded upon. They were, in the most part, pursuit and / or escape movies. The anti-heroes featured were usually on the run from something, be it the law or an unhappy lifestyle.
Slightly late to the dance was American Perfekt (1997), which features, upon reflection, some fascinating casting choices. Robert Forster, Fairuza Balk, David Thewlis, Amanda Plummer and Paul Sorvino all play their parts magnificently in this almost forgotten slice of oddball Americana.
Plummer plays Sandra Thomas, a woman who clearly hasn't managed to get her life completely together and who is driving across the desert to meet her sister Alice (Balk) who has absolutely no interest in getting hers together at all. After a near fatal crash, Sandra meets Jake Nyman (Forster) who helps her out as her car is practically totalled.
After the setup, we are thrust into a world of seedy motels and small town cops, of bar skanks and confidence tricksters (Thewlis is particularly slimy, repuslsive and wonderful in this, however, nothing will ever frighten me as much as his performance in 'Naked'). No one seems particularly trustworthy and this creates a Twin peaks feel to the movie in that it keeps you constantly guessing as to what the motives and true back stories of the characters. It was written and directed by Paul Chart, an artist who has done little else since, but if this is anything to go by, another offering would be graciously received.
The film spirals into a tense, dusty thriller which has both a charm and a quality that whilst being very much 'of the time', hold up exceptionally well fifteen years later. If you haven't yet had the pleasure of American Perfekt and enjoyed the aforementioned road movies, then this would be a great investment of a few hours.
Read more at zombiehamster.com
I saw this film in a film festival in Montreal a long time ago and I
was amazed at the quality of this film. First of all, the screenplay is
well written and the characters are well defined. Furthermore, the way
it is shot proves that the director knew what he was doing.
Unfortunately this film never made it to theater here in Montreal and it is very hard to find. I am surprised to see that such a good movie couldn't get any distribution, but I guess that's the way the system work. So many good films don't make it while so many bad films gets released...
I hope it will be easier to see it on DVD. I recommend this film to whoever wants to watch an intelligent movie.
Quality Rating:**(two stars) out of ***** American Perfekt is the kind of thriller that is going to be a cult appreciated for few. I rented this film because of Robert Forster, he had just been nominated by the Academy for Jackie Brown (in which he was great), and American Perfekt seemed to have an interesting plot, with elements of suspense, horror and drama. The film follows the story of a woman who is seeking for her problematic sister, and ends up getting involved with a seemingly normal guy, who actually turns out to be a psychopath (Forster). American Perfekt is a violent road-movie, with moments of unbearable brutality (like the scene in which Amanda Plummer's body is found) and special participations by David Thewlis, Paul Sorvino and Fairuza Balk, all of them playing (very) weird roles. Film director Paul Chart tried to balance drama and suspense, but he forgot that the film needed a more consistent and strong noir story. Forster is excellent as a gentile psychopath, he decides his luck with a coin, and is capable of make the most atrocious violence, unlike Fairuza Balk, who is clearly terrible as the "sister". American Perfekt is a B- horror flick, with some known names, and it will soon become a cult for few.I recommend Outside Ozona, that has a similar, but better, plot, and also counts with the great Robert Forster.
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