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Living in the rural Texas panhandle is a dysfunctional family: an abusive dad, a Vietnam vet with a war wound that's left him impotent; a compliant wife and a son of about 20, who have an incestuous relationship at the insistence of the dad; and, two small sons who look a lot like their brother. The dad harbors a secret, and he goes to murderous lengths to keep it hidden. The young man, Jimmy, who sleeps out in the shed, has suspicions, but little comes out until a Yankee woman of middle age comes to town looking for a dead private eye. And why does dad keep calling Jimmy, "little boy blue"? Written by
At the end of the movie, a policeman buys a six pack of local Texas beer, the bottles of which are dark brown. They remove the six pack from the brown bag and put it on the table. After Doris Knight talks for a while, the beers become the Dutch import Heineken, and the beer package seems to be back in the brown bag again. See more »
Little Boy Blue is a difficult-to-review dichotomy of a movie. It continually pairs brilliant film-making with portions that one would expect from a straight-to-video release.
The movie starts off quickly establishing its heavy sexual content and unusual family relationships. The alcoholic, Vietnam veteran father played by John Savage is a fierce, detestable character meant to be feared by all but his inexplicably devoted wife played by Kinski (what does she see in him?). Savage's character is effective but could have given us more understanding of why he became who he is.
Savage spares no family member his brutality and cruelty. Oldest son Jimmy (Ryan Phillippe) receives even more denigration than his two younger brothers. The tension as Savage and Phillippe both realize that Jimmy's now reaching the age where he may be able to stand up to Savage and therefore threaten his dominance over the family is brilliantly played.
Phillippe's performance is light-years past any of his others. He steals the movie with his torn-character-- wanting to escape his hellish father, but fearing what will happen to his mother and even more so his two young brothers if he leaves. This debate is layered even more into his relationship with his girlfriend and the possibility of leaving for college with his great baseball talent.
Jimmy's desperate need for love and yet difficulty of being able to love after his nightmarish upbringing makes for captivating viewing. In one sense, though, he has already found it in the wonderfully-shown love he has for his two brothers. It is one of the most tender brother relationships one will find on the screen and clearly the heart of the entire movie.
The mystery and plot-turns are much more hit-and-miss than the relationships. Some are well-conceived and timely unveiled, but others make one scratch his head and wonder what was the point of that? One wonders if too much was left on the cutting room floor or if the movie was dumped into video stores with little thought.
Such instances include the dramatic recognition by the mail-carrier of the police patrolman that leads to ... nothing. In fact, the mail-carrier's role seems to be too large for such little payoff. And what is the point of the forced-statements at gunpoint by Mrs. Knight?
Overall, the role of the police in the movie is the least-developed. Various implications are made in vague, unfulfilled ways. Are the police attempting a cover-up or are they simply negligent in their investigation? And why all the time spent on Nate Carr's attempt to get in on more action at the police department?
Little Boy Blue has more flaws than one would like, but it so perfectly handles the complicated relationships at the center of the story that you can't help but love this movie. It will at once move you to tears of sorrow, fits of empathetic anger, and hopes of peaceful love.
A warning, though; this movie is full of sex and is worse in that regard than most R-movies. However, this is central to the plot and not superfluous.
Here is the irony: many go to see Phillippe's body in cheaper, low-brow movies. They will likely miss this one-- which surely shows more of Phillippe than any of his others-- but which for the first time shows the possibility of a coming actor. And, in at least my opinion, finally puts Phillippe in a quality movie-- one you won't soon forget.
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