Criminal psychiatrist Jake Nyman is taking a much needed vacation from responsibility with an experimental road trip during which every decision will be made on a flip of a coin. Meanwhile Sandra Thomas, disenchanted professional, is en route to pick up her flunked out sister, Alice, at a cheap motel before continuing on to visit their ailing mother. After being forced off the road by a mysterious assailant however, Sandra is picked up by Jake, whose coin flipping amoral attitude quickly excites her own desire to break a few rules. Or worse. Jake and Sandra's romance is soon driven by chance acts of crime and kindness, all governed by the flip of a coin - at least until Sandra mysteriously disappears and Jake unwittingly picks up her suspicious sister, Alice ...Written by
Lay It Down
Written by Michael Timmins
Performed by Cowboy Junkies
Courtesy of Geffen Records
By arrangement with Universal Music Special Markets
1996 By Paz Junk Music/ BMG Songs, Inc. (ASCAP) See more »
Oddball and take on the psycho road movie
American Perfekt is a disjointed yet darkly compelling little nightmare of a road movie, a dusty ode to bowers of the American southwest left unchecked and decayed, populated by wayward souls with perpetual heat delirium, vixens, psychopaths and hustlers alike, who saunter through lurid story lines that often end in bloodshed and madness. In the vein of stuff like Oliver Stone's U-Turn and Kalifornia, we once again pair up with some extremely off colour characters as they navigate both the tangled web of highways that lace the States as well as the human capacity for greed, lust and heinous physical violence. The characters, and actors for that matter, who populate this stretch of highway are an especially bizarre bunch, starting with Robert Forster's vacationing criminal psychologist Jake Nyman. Forster is quite the unpredictable guy, usually found in calmly benign protagonist roles, yet just as capable of stirring the pot with evil antics. Here's he's opaqueness incarnate, driving from one place to another until he runs into two sisters played by another couple of acting hellcats, Amanda Plummer and Fairuza Balk. Jake is basing each decision of his trip upon the flip of a coin a-lá Harvey Dent, a tactic which simultaneously causes trouble and indicates how unhinged he might really be.
Plummer is weird and Balk is weirder, but neither as weird as David 'Professor Lupin' Thewlis as an awkwardly placed character who seems to exist just to jump into a scene and throw the mood off kilter. There's others running amok too, including Geoffrey Lewis, as well as Paul Sorvino and Chris Sarandon as a pair of state troopers who serve as comic relief. Forster is scary here, playing a guy who is psychologically hard to pin down or get a read on, and he's got some dynamite scenes with Balk in the third act, the two talents lighting up the frame. It's pretty far south of coherent though, mostly just these freaks terrorizing each other and engaging in puzzling romantic flings that only make sense to them, I suppose. If feverish, borderline abstract, sun-stroked neo noir is your thing, go for it. You can certainly do worse than spend a certifiably bonkers ninety minutes with this terrific bunch of actors.
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