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After being released from prison on a bum charge, Harry Barber is out for some payback to regain the two years he has lost. He is hired by Mrs. Malroux to fake the kidnapping of her stepdaughter (the daughter of a dying millionaire). He discovers that he is being set up on multiple levels and will soon face a longer prison sentence if he does not prove the truth to the police. Written by
Jason Ihle <email@example.com>
When on the beach, walking to the right of the screen, you can see a camera man carrying his equipment. See more »
[palmetto bug chirping over typical prison sounds]
They're not as bad as you might think. In fact, sometimes they're pretty good company.
And you can get used to just about anything in prison, even a palmetto bug.
I tried writing again. Nothing came out that didn't sound bitter and cynical. And there's nothing worse than a writer who doesn't have anything to say.
Well... that's me, Harry Barber.
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Woody Harrelson plays Harry Barber, a wise guy reporter who just did some jail time for a dirty deal that wasn't his fault. When he gets out of the slam, he just wants his life back. But bad breaks and shifty women soon send him right back into the seamy, sexy world of double deals and decadent rich folks, in a steamy Florida town called PALMETTO.
The plot of this movie is okay, and the story moves along at a slow, but steady pace. But what really makes it work is the sexual subtext of a man fighting to maintain both his moral high ground and his sexual potency while surrounded by a trio of luscious, dangerous women.
At first, Harry Barber's biggest problem is finding a job. When he gets out of jail, his loyal girl friend Nina (Gina Gershon) is waiting to meet him. Dark-eyed Nina is the ideal best pal -- friendly, loving, and supportive. Not only does she take Harry in, she's more than willing to pay for his expenses and keep him on as her "assistant" until he finds a job. The sizzling tension between them is that Nina wants a docile and submissive male concubine while Harry is too macho to accept the pleasures Nina can provide. He's clearly the kind of man who feels that it's emasculating for a woman to have too much money or power in a relationship. Still, Nina is so stunningly attractive and so clearly besotted with him that he almost unwillingly sinks into dependence. Watch the early morning scene where he makes coffee for Nina and tensely waits for her approval!
It's pure Neanderthal male pride that drives Harry to accept a "dirty job" from blonde temptress Rhea Malroux. Elisabeth Shue has never, ever been more radiant than in this classic noir role of the black widow. The sex scenes are sizzling precisely because Rhea is using Harry and preparing to feed on him. Yet when her spoiled step daughter, Odette, appears, Harry is forced to pleasure not one but two of the most dangerous women in Palmetto!
Frankly, the ending of this movie is not very satisfying -- Harry does not really triumph in the end, nor does he learn the value of Nina's loyalty and support. In the end it's more of a paranoid male fantasy than a real classic thriller, but still worth watching just for the sizzling sexual subtext between Harry and his three witches!
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