When Bobby's car breaks down in the desert while on the run from some of the bookies who have already taken two of his fingers, he becomes trapped in the nearby small town where the people are stranger than anyone he's encountered. After becoming involved with a (unbeknownst to him) young married woman, her husband hires Bobby to kill her. Later, she hires Bobby to kill the husband. Written by
Jason Ihle <email@example.com>
`U Turn' is an assault on the senses. But then again, what more can one expect from director Oliver Stone whose innovative brand of filmmaking is often filled with characters that are violent, insane, heroic, and even bizarre. `U Turn' has many characters played by big name actors that intertwine themselves around a central character, in this case, played by Sean Penn (`Casualties Of War'). Ultimately, a film about getting away with murder, `U Turn' is an intriguing blend of story, violence, and strange people. `U Turn' takes place during a hot day in Arizona where we meet our principal character, Bobby (Penn), who is on his way to California to pay a debt to the mob that has helped him in one way or the other. When his car breaks down, Bobby is forced to have a redneck, roadside mechanic, named Darrell (Billy Bob Thornton), fix it. While his car is in the shop, he ends up walking into a local town where he meets some very eccentric people from a blind vagrant (Jon Voight), a drunken sheriff, a hillbilly and his girlfriend, to an exotic woman who sticks out like a sore thumb against the simplicity of the town. Every person he encounters ultimately leads to a conclusion that he could never have expected. Robert Richardson whose superb cinematography has been used in several films of note filmed `U Turn' masterfully. Richardson's craft with a camera can be seen in such other movies as `The Horse Whisperer,' `Snow Falling On Cedars,' and `The Four Feathers.' With its rough cuts, non-steady cam shots, and scenes filmed as the sun glaring down on the actors, Richardson's work gives a harsh and nauseating feel to the film. Stone's direction was excellent. He's an admirable director in that he doesn't follow the mainstream concepts that are commonly seen in most motion pictures. Watching a Stone film is like watching graduate film students show off their work-it's fresh, energetic, and exciting. `U Turn,' undoubtedly, has some of 1997s best performances. Penn is outstanding as a guy who just keeps happening on the wrong place at the wrong time. Jennifer Lopez is surprisingly good in her performances as the wife of a real estate salesman. Lopez seems to have some talent on the screen unlike her singing career. Her performance in another offbeat movie, `Out Of Sight,' was also good. Nick Nolte is as Nick Nolte does-he's rough around the edges, perverse and violent as the real estate salesman who seems to rule over the sleepy town. Other performances of note are that of Thornton has a slack-jawed yokel mechanic. Joaquin Phoenix (`Signs') as a hillbilly and his simple-minded girlfriend, played by Claire Danes (`The Hours') give the film a hysterical notch. Other points of interest in the film are the score, composed by veteran, Italian, film composer Ennio Morrcone (`Mission To Mars') whose music adds a humorous atmosphere to the irony of the film. All in all, `U Turn' is a film that is gritty and brutal, but entertaining as all hell. ***1/2
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