After Fred Frenger gets out of prison, he decides to start over in Miami, Florida, where he begins a violent one-man crime wave. He soon meets up with amiable college student/prostitute Susie Waggoner. Opposing Frenger is Sgt Hoke Moseley, a cop who is getting a bit old for the job, especially since the job of cop in 1980's Miami is getting crazier all the time.Written by
A man gets off a plane in Miami to upset world of normalcy. In simple terms the story is that he seduces an innocent waif and goes on a crime spree around the city, one of those sociopath protagonists who do whatever they please. Baldwin is superb in the role; if Fight Club was adapted a few years earlier he would have been the ideal Tyler Durden.
It's actually more elaborate than that.
At first it seems he might be doing all this for just money but there's no calculated rhyme to his madness or anything he plans to do with that money. What we have instead is an inscrutable narrator pulling a prank on reality. Posing as a cop, he beats and robs people, then later prevents a robbery. He has come to Miami with a stolen identity, a suitcase full of women's clothes, so we get to understand that all this has been going on for some time across the country.
This part makes for some great viewing if you're someone who enjoys caprice. But what I loved more, was seeing him through the eyes of the girl in a way that it provides a center, elevates it above crime fantasy. She's a a naive creature in the big city, innocently trusting in peoples' good intentions; working as a prostitute but she dreams of an idyllic American life where she can own her own burger joint and have a house with a white- picket fence to come back to, a husband and kids. She's a marvel to watch, very serious about love. And us knowing he is playing with her heart, feigning love, without knowing how much he's prepared to prey on her.
Abstract sparks fly. His fooling with reality, in and out of guises to no purpose other than he can get away with mischief, versus her deep yearning to be grounded. The most marvelous scene is when he takes her to a large house he has rented for them and seen through her eyes is a dreamy haven come true.
You can think of it with Lolita in mind, the portion from Lolita's disappearance on, with Baldwin in the role of Quilty and the cop as the narrator who is continuously flummoxed by his wily nemesis. It captures more of Nabokov's mischievous spirit than Lynne's square adaptation.
It shows up sometimes in lists about modern noir but it doesn't belong really. Instead I put it up for inclusion in my short list of cult items from the 80s (released right after but very much a product of the time), next to Breathless, Society, Blue Velvet and Repo Man.
Noir Meter: 1/4
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