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Reviews & Ratings for
Iowa More at IMDbPro »

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5 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

A harsh look at drugs in the heartland

7/10
Author: joel_the_ghoul from United States
9 January 2007

I saw this movie on a trip to Iowa, and not knowing much about Matt Farnsworth, the director (or the subject of meth, for that matter), I had no preconceived expectations, but walked away impressed and educated by a first-time filmmaker's jarring exploration into addiction.

Though Farnsworth doesn't quite explore the psychology of drug addiction as much as he could, the frenetic, visual representation illustrates the world of meth from a user's perspective, providing a sharp contract to the small town setting of the film. Farnsworth is capable in the lead role, but its Michael T. Weiss's turn as a sadistic, power-tripping sheriff that steals the show.

A couple of complaints: Fransworth occasionally goes for shock value, mistaking it for a message of rude awakening. And the hand-held, store-bought-video-camera interludes of the Iowa landscape seem forced and shlocky. The landscape means very little to the film (presumably less than Farnsworth thinks it does, since the movie is named for the state it resides in), as this story could be easily translated to any city (big or small) in the states.

I've read Farnsworth has been leading an anti-meth crusade, and while that's honorable, I hope (for selfish reason) that he has not abandoned directing for this higher calling. I can't wait to see what he does with his second go-round.

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12 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

Last night at Tribeca...

10/10
Author: pointerb from United States
26 April 2005

Day four of the festival, Iowa premiere. I didn't know what to expect from freshman Farnsworth. This film had me jumping out of my seat. Iowa plays like a Public Service Announce meets horror film meets rock video. It makes Requiem for a Dream look like a knock knock joke. I'm from the Midwest, and this didn't make me the least bit nostalgic. Yet, it was the best film I've seen at the festival so far. Amazing performances by all, especially the guy who played the tweaker named Nick. With John Savage and Roseanna Arquette, you knew it would be a solid film. But the younger less known characters made this something special. Great work, Matt. Keep it coming...

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7 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Tribeca Film Screening

7/10
Author: jsmact from United States
25 April 2005

I just saw this film at the Tribeca film festival and it had some great moments. It is reminiscent of Pulp Fiction, Blow, and Natural Born Killers, except it only takes place in a small town. Farnsworth did a brilliant job, especially considering it is his directorial debut and how young he is. There are some very gory scenes and it is definitely suspenseful. The camera work is very good. The beginning is a little slow, but most of the film is powerful. I have no complaints except that maybe there was a lot of stuff that was done for shock value. I am sure this film will get him some attention and more work. I recommend this to people who like films with drug and violent themes. There are some messages in it, but this is not a highly intellectual film. I don't normally write reviews, so I hope this is helpful.

-J

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10 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

Low Rent Meth Madness

2/10
Author: noralee from Queens, NY
6 April 2006

"Iowa" wants to be "Requiem for a Dream" for Midwest meth, but it comes across as a hard R rated "Reefer Madness".

Yes, drugs are bad, and meth is horribly pernicious, as an addiction and how it destroys people, families and communities. But these characters who are either dumb or ridiculous and the eye-rolling plot won't teach that lesson to anyone.

While writer/director/star Matt Farnsworth has some charisma on screen, his partner Diane Foster plays a wincibly silly wide-eyed innocent corrupted by drugsas was already satirized by Susan Sarandon in "The Rocky Horror Picture Show". I really felt sorry for her for all the totally unnecessary nudity she was put through. It wasn't until the end of the film that I realized I was supposed to think these two were recent high-school graduates to explain some of their naiveté, as we are bombarded by their school photos, but if so, they even looked older than the folks on "The O.C.". While they have good chemistry on screen, they are a pale imitation of a "Badlands"-type couple.

The guest stars are badly used. Michael T. Weiss, who was so good in TV's "The Pretender", is completely ludicrous as a corrupt parole officer and his brutal violence is just plain crazy, as his character pretty much ruins any social significance for the film. Rosanna Arquette has to be even sleazier than she rolled around for David Cronenberg as a very low rent Livia Soprano. John Savage even has to mouth the old baby boomer excuses about I did pot but this is worse. A Goth chick shows up, with the odd explanation that she's a stripper from Des Moines. The obligatory Latino drug dealer appears - in Iowa?

With a limited budget, the interior view of meth use is portrayed quite vividly, with quite scary hallucinations. We certainly see them go crazy.

While the Iowa locations are used very well (including an amusing scene of a propane gas robbery), the accents and church references are confusingly Southern Baptist. Guns seem to be used by law abiding and law breaking citizens here more than in any inner-city drug-dealing movie.

The songs of Iowa's best known bard Greg Brown are used throughout, but oddly are not listed in the credits. I hope they were used with permission.

I caught this at its commercial run in NYC because I missed it at the Tribeca Film Festival where it got considerable-- and inexplicable-- buzz.

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10 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

Just saw Iowa at Tribeca Film Festival

7/10
Author: joe-777 from United States
25 April 2005

As a New York City based editor and onceuponatime native of SE Iowa (about 15 miles from where this film was shot) I knew I had to see this film. I had not heard of it but was very pleasantly surprised.

Farnsworth pulled off the trifecta here of writing, directing, and acting and he did a pretty good job at all three. He's obviously a competent filmmaker. The cast did a pretty good job - I was a little disappointed to hear a "southern" accent too often. The main female lead really grew on me. At first I thought she was a little too Hollywood and too good looking but I really bought into her character.

The editing was done well. At times it was a little too "showy" when simple cuts could have told the story better. But the story kept moving forward and there were never any of those slow moments when you wish you could hit fast forward.

I expected a little more juxtaposition showing idyllic rural Iowa life and the effect that the meth problem has had on a lot of small Midwestern towns. Meth is a big big problem and it affects a lot of people who have nothing to do with meth. This movie mainly focuses on a small group of characters who deal meth, take meth, or are related to meth users.

All in all, it was very well done. Kind of reminded me of Badlands. Maybe we could call this "Badlands One State Over" since Badlands was in Nebraska. It's definitely got some over-the-top violence but done well in the context of the film.

Farnsworth should be proud of himself. He did a great job here managing all 3 duties. The writing was tight, he plays the role real well, and he had some very interesting directing choices. I definitely recommend Iowa.

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

A sobering perspective of meth use

8/10
Author: nmllover2003 from United States
9 June 2006

Although I wouldn't say this is the best movie I've seen, I thought that it did drive home the addicting and devastating effects of meth production, sale and use. The acting, for the most part, was captivating. I've lived in Iowa for almost a year now, and some folks have been worried about the perspective this gives of the state. I think that the movie really could have been placed in any rural community and still drive home the point. Quite honestly, I think that without the sex scenes, if this movie was shown to junior high school and high school students, it would quell any curiosity to try meth (particularly, I think, the tweaking scene and its aftermath). I still think "Requiem for a Dream" is a better movie that talks about the effects of dreams and the use of drugs to attain those dreams, but I have recommended this movie to many friends as a must-see movie.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

It's time traveling Michael T. Weiss and film-making that's flawed on almost every level

3/10
Author: MBunge from Waterloo, Iowa
4 June 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I'd really like to be able to tell you that this movie is worth seeing, that this little indy flick about small town Iowa life and the perils of methamphetamine is gripping and smart and honest. But this film isn't gripping. It isn't smart. It isn't honest. It is steaming pile of confused and confusing storytelling mixed together with a relentless kaleidoscope of visual stylizing. From inexplicable accents and morphing beards to nonsensical schemes and magical lacerations to ridiculously excessive editing and a character that looks and acts like he just stepped out of The Time Tunnel, Iowa is just one stupid and irritating thing after another.

While it's ostensibly about a pair of young lovers named Esper Harte and Donna Huffman (Matt Farnsworth and Diane Foster) descending into a meth-fueled haze of violence and hallucinations, there are too many elements of this tale that don't make sense on the most rudimentary level for it to be about anything except how much it sucks. I mean, it's clear that writer/director Matt Farnsworth wants to say something about the meth problem in Iowa. It's also clear that he believes he can say it by ineptly aping the style of Requiem for a Dream. What's absolutely unmistakable, however, is that Farnsworth is incapable of telling any story more complicated than "see Spot run".

Let me just give you one example of the head-scratchingly incompetent writing at work here. Early on in the movie, Esper gets thrown in jail on a drug charge by corrupt corrections officer Larry (Michael T. Weiss) as part of a plan to kill him and get the money left to Esper by his dead father. All we see of Esper in jail is him slumped up against the wall in a prison cell with someone leering at him. Larry then asks Donna to come down to his office, whereupon he spends several hours raping her over and over. He lets Donna go. She gets some money and bails out her boyfriend…and that somehow foils Larry's attempt to kill Esper. There's never a hint of how or when Esper was supposed to get murdered. There's not a glimmer of an explanation for why Larry decided to spend an evening raping Donna or how he thought he could get away with it. Nothing in the entire sequence of events makes a lick of sense.

And it's not just big stuff like that which is screwed up in this movie. It's also little things like Esper's beard constantly changing shape and length. It randomly ranges from relatively trimmed to nearly Amish-like in dimension. Esper gets a cut on his forehead. Then the cut disappears. Then it reappears. And that's not because the story jumps around in some non-linear fashion. They simply forgot the cut makeup one day while they were shooting a scene. And then there are these weirdly southern accents that creep into the dialog at times. Unlike people from Minnesota or Wisconsin, Iowans are renowned for having a dialect without inflection. But this film seems to believe that all white trash are descended from the same tribe somewhere in Kentucky.

By far the strangest aspect of Iowa is the character of Larry. It's not that he's cartoonishly evil. It's that while the film is clearly set in the early to mid 2000s, Larry looks like he wakes up every morning in 1973. His clothes, his manner and his facial hair are all from a completely different era than every other person in the story. Michael T. Weiss appears to be having some fun playing this walking, talking anachronism, but that doesn't change how awesomely misplaced the character is in this movie.

As someone born and bred in the Hawkeye State, it pains me to say that Iowa is one of those films where all you can do is sit and marvel at how awful it is.

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6 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

One of my top films this year.

10/10
Author: D. Zuckerman from Los Feliz, CA
5 June 2006

I saw this film in L.A. at the Sunset 5. I had no idea what to expect but that is what I like about independent film. Independent being the key word here. I usually do not comment on IMDb but I felt compelled to after reading a few of the verbal assaults on this film. I am a successful person in the entertainment world and I have seen this happen before. A great film gets slammed by a lot of jealous people who wished they had made the film or film students who think they would have made a better one. Well you didn't and like 99.99 percent of the world you never will. I can see that the comments range from very negative to very positive minus anything average. People either love this movie or hate it. That is because there is a lot of passion behind it. I vividly remember parts of this film and considering the budget it was probably made for, "IOWA" is an amazing accomplishment. It is my understanding that this is also a major problem in the Midwest. Farnsworth should be regarded as pioneer. Not a copycat. People are calling this just another drug film with similarities to Spun, Natural Born Killers, and many other films made by seasoned industry vets who's first films would probably not stack up against Farnsworth's. The film does have faults but the sheer fact that names Like David Lynch are mentioned in the New York Post review of "IOWA" should tell us we have found a new voice and we should pay attention because whether or not you love the film it's choice of topic is a Noble one. There has never been a film made about meth in the Midwest to my knowledge. That means this is not just another drug film. I feel this film will gain momentum even with some of the negative reviews and people will open up to the new director. Honestly when I first saw the poster I thought is was Scarlet Johansson and Brad Pitt in a film I had not heard about. That alone is enough to make some of the not so pretty people out there write with unneeded negativity and pound away at the keyboard. Not everybody has the ability to do all the things Farnsworth did on "IOWA'. As strong as it was I am really interested to see him do a film with only one or two jobs.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Don't get high off your own supply or anybody Else's

5/10
Author: yeodawg from United States
25 May 2011

Michael T. WIESS has doggy style sex with Rosanna ARQUETTE. Michael WIESS of "PRETENDER" fame has back-door hate-sex with MILFy Rosanna ARQUETTE. And in like the first 30 seconds of the film. That should be more than enough to give this film a good watching. Anyhow a guy gets out of jail or something comes home and finds out his old place is now a burned out METH- LAB. He starts sampling some of the left over's telling his girl "You're hot and young, of course you should be doing meth." He goes to visit mom who's in cahoots with the local parole officer to have her son killed for the insurance money. Mind you his girl friend happens to be the daughter of the local sad-sack Sheriff. So the young couple goes from doing meth, getting addicted to meth, and then making their own meth. Then they get the bright idea to sell it, which adds fuel to the fire. Because now they have to associate with characters outside they're comfort zone. They also have to stay up three days partying until you run out; they're staying up for weeks on end cooking the never-ending supply, to meet demand. The never-ending demand.

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6 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

This is like a bad student film.

2/10
Author: strain6 from United States
28 May 2006

The week before I saw Iowa, I saw Art School Confidential, in which a pretentious student makes a film and can't decide whether he wants it to be art or violent exploitation. Iowa could be the film that he made. I can see elements of much better movies in Iowa - Spun and Natural Born Killers. However, in addition to artiness, both those movies had good character development and coherent story lines. Iowa. This movie stumbles to a preposterous end. I have to admit that it had consistency. This movie is bad from beginning to end and not particularly worse or better in any part. The actors all did what they could. Roseanna Arquette deserves better. She demonstrates that she is very talented, very funny, and very sexy. But why does she have to demonstrate it in this turd ball.

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