Clay is a young man in a small town who witnesses his friend kill himself because of the on-going affair that Clay was having with the man's wife. Feeling guilty, Clay now resists the widow when she presses him to continue with their sexual affairs. Clay befriends a troubling serial killer.Written by
BOB STEBBINS <email@example.com>
Janeane Garofalo said in an interview that her biggest reason for taking the role of Agent Dale Shelby was her feeling that the film needed a strong leading female character to "take the edge off" the occasional violence against women on-screen. See more »
When Clay is being interrogated for the first time, and he is asked if he was just friends with Amanda, he sits with nothing in his hands or mouth. When he answers "no" a second later, he has a cigarette in his mouth and matches in his hand. See more »
In a small town out west, a target practice outing with a friend kicks off a chain of bizarre events that lead a man to involvement with murder and an unsolicited alliance with a person of, shall we say, `questionable' character in `Clay Pigeons,' directed by David Dobkin. Joaquin Phoenix is Clay Birdwell, a regular guy whose lack of judgment and discretion catches up with him unexpectedly in this dark, maddening tale of morality and fate that is sometimes morose and disturbing, at other times darkly humorous, as it deftly examines the trappings of the tangled webs we humans weave. Clay has become mired in a moral dilemma from which there seems to be no escape, when he meets and is befriended by Lester Long (Vince Vaughn), a trucker passing through town one night. At a local bar, Lester observes that Clay doesn't exactly have a way with women; it gets Lester's attention, which leads to a game of pool and, later on, a casual fishing trip that, like the target practice outing, proves to be a life-altering experience for Clay. Phoenix is perfectly cast as Clay, ably conveying the effects of the dark quagmire into which he is cast by circumstances he is unable to control. His performance enables you to feel him sinking ever deeper as the story moves along, and to empathize with him and experience what he is going through. You realize that he understands his situation, and it becomes a matter of waiting to see if he will make the right decisions, regardless of the inevitable consequences. It creates a tension that makes you want to yell at the screen to tell him what to do. Vaughn is excellent as well as the cowboy trucker with the winning smile, robust laugh and a closet full of dark secrets. There's a menace behind the good-natured facade he puts on that becomes more pronounced as the events unfold. Pretty early on you know what this guy is all about, but somehow it only enhances the anxiety of the whole situation as it becomes a cat-and mouse game (with some unexpected twists) between Clay and Lester. Another notable performance comes from the charismatic Janeane Garofalo, who is surprisingly effective and credible as F.B.I. agent Dale Shelby, who comes to town when things take a turn and begin to heat up. It's a credit to her talent and versatility that she can pull this character off so well. The supporting cast includes Georgina Cates (Amanda), Scott Wilson (Sheriff Mooney), Vince Vieluf (Deputy Barney), and Monica Moench (Kimberly). There are moments in this movie that absolutely make you want to tear your hair out, a credit to the way Dobkin put this project together and delivered it. `Clay Pigeons' is a nail-biter that will keep you going right up to the end (which is terrific); Clay and Lester are characters you're going to remember, and just to make sure there's a brief, inspired reminder at the end of the credits (so stay with it all the way). Relatively overlooked during it's original release, this film should gain new life on video, and deservedly so; this is one you'll be glad you took a look at. I rate this one 9/10.
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