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Mark H. Baker
Life is good for Jack, Carter and Harlan, three inept ne'r-do-wells who help run master dope-grower Malcoms flourishing marijuana plantation somewhere in northern California. But then Malcom is suddenly bumped off by a mysterious assailant, after a moment of panic, the naive trio decide to take over the business themselves. However, their lazy days on the dope farm have ill prepared them for the high-stakes game of finding buyers for millions of dollars of contraband. As they plunge into a shadowy new world of duplicity, double-dealing and danger, they soon find that they have gotten in way, way over their heads. But driven on by increasing greed and paranoia, it's too late to back out. Written by
Eva Tauzer <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Well, it's a weird movie. That Stephen Gyllenhaal seems to LIKE weirdness, really.
The fact that the film is billed as a comedy should not be considered an indictment. A film is made because someone decided to try to share this particular story with you--NOT because he wanted to add another movie to some given drawer/shelf in a video rental store, nor because he wanted to make things easy for the marketing department.
I know the film wasn't well-promoted, but looking at the movie itself, I think it's actually a pretty innovative piece of work.
What really makes the film work is the ambiguity and (ok, I admit it) PARANOIA of it.
If you've found yourself wondering what any particular scene adds to this movie, I fear you've fallen victim to lack of imagination. The characters never know "who knows what," and that is the single most essential premise of the movie. The film uses a far stronger perspective of first-person perspective than such bubble-gum fare as the Matrix. When the hapless dope-growers meet the first distributor they're looking to do business with, they don't know whether he's "in on everything." When BB Thornton talks to Sienna, he has no idea what SHE knows about the situation...and in fact, no matter how you choose to interpret that particular scene, you really ought to acknowledge that perhaps the "reality" (cinematically speaking) is the complete opposite of what you first thought when you watched it. Almost every meaningful dramatic scene in the film is completely ambiguous in possible interpretation. At least up until the climax.
This is a film that truly does get better with repeated viewings, IF you have the patience for a movie that doesn't spell everything out for you. If you want a heavy musical score and a didactic moral "point," stick with Spielberg. He'll never disappoint. If you want to WONDER what the characters are really up to in a film, check this one out.
The cast is terrific, the story is novel if not earthshaking, and the polish and presentation are first-rate. It has a few minor editorial flaws--I could've done without Lithgow's late appearance, or some of the "feel-good" moments laced into the script early on, but I certainly don't think someone else would have done a better job with the concept and script...unless Kubrick or Fassbinder were still alive.
8.5 out of 10.
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