6.0/10
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22 user 3 critic

American Perfekt (1997)

Sandra meets a shrink on the way to picking up her sister at a desert town to continue to their mom. He decides by flipping a coin. The coin flipping gets psycho.

Director:

Paul Chart

Writer:

Paul Chart
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2 wins. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Amanda Plummer ... Sandra
Robert Forster ... Jake
David Thewlis ... Santini
Fairuza Balk ... Alice
Paul Sorvino ... Frank
Joanna Gleason ... Shirley
Geoffrey Lewis ... Willy
Chris Sarandon ... Sammy
Jay Patterson ... Bernie
Judson Mills ... Junior
Rutanya Alda ... Gloria
Paul Henry Paul Henry ... Pete / Trucker #1
Belinda Balaski ... Rita
Jack Breschard Jack Breschard ... Trucker #2
Nathan Le Grand ... Freddie
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Storyline

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 Filmfan

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The Road to Hell is Paved with Good Intentions

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for grisly violence, strong sexuality/nudity and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This reteams David Thewlis and Fairuza Balk after the notoriously troubled The Island of Dr. Moreau (1996). See more »

Goofs

For most of the film, the license plate on Santini's car is Nevada 28ZP9N. However, when chasing Sandra's car a the beginning of the film, the license plate is California 3DSK878. See more »

Crazy Credits

End credits run backwards See more »

Soundtracks

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)
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User Reviews

 
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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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

11 September 1997 (Singapore) See more »

Also Known As:

American Perfekt See more »

Filming Locations:

Pearblossom, California, USA See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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