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Handguns figure in the intertwining lives of nine people. Warren shoots his wife Helen's lover and his defense is that he thought he was shooting an intruder. She leaves him; the lawyer helps her get a job with a nutty, reclusive computer wizard who waves a pistol about, sometimes at Helen. Tennel, the computer geek's ex-assistant, lands a video-store job and is smitten by Annabel Lee, an aggressive street kid who likes complaining about men to her pistol-packing psychotic brother to set him off. In secret, Annabel starts an affair with the lawyer, who has both a pistol and a gay lover, who becomes jealous. He has a pistol too. A cool (and armed) cop stays on Warren's tail. Written by
A well-crafted, rhythmic story knitting together a dozen lives (some well-explored, some not-enough) with handguns as the common thread.
Like Short Cuts or Magnolia, the story builds not though a single protagonist/antagonist pair, but through a mosaic of different people. The ensemble cast (especially Joan Allen, Andre Braugher, Gary Sinise, Jeff Daniels and Anna Paquin)is wonderful and except for Allen, all play parts that seem well outside their usual range. Braugher and Daniels especially play parts different from what they've done before and both are convincing. Only an accomplished stage actor like Sinise could have fully developed "Morgan", a character that could too easily have become a charicature; he probably deserved some award nominations for supporting actor for this, and it makes it more poignant seeing him in the mindless commercial pap that dominates his career.
The core theme is how guns, and owning them, affect different personalities. Some changes are the same in all the new gun owners; most are different. While it's clearly an anti-handgun film, I don't find that offensive; it's clear the writer knew actual urban people who obtained handguns and the way urban handgun toters change, sometimes subtlely, sometimes significantly. If you're a member of The Second Amendment Foundation or a survivalist whacko, you won't appreciate the film, but any of the 94% of the population that isn't will relish the tart commentary.
Editing and cinematography are both crisp and add a lot to the story.
This is a very, very good movie in every respect. I recommend it strongly.
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