6.9/10
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148 user 41 critic

Limbo (1999)

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0:31 | Trailer
In an economically devastated Alaskan town, a fisherman with a troublesome past dates a woman whose young daughter does not approve of him. When he witnesses the murder of his shady brother, he, the woman and the kid run to the wilderness.

Director:

John Sayles

Writer:

John Sayles
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2 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Michael Laskin ... Albright
Leo Burmester ... Harmon King
Hermínio Ramos Hermínio Ramos ... Ricky
Dawn McInturff Dawn McInturff ... Audrey
Vanessa Martinez ... Noelle De Angelo
David Strathairn ... Joe Gastineau
Tom Biss Tom Biss ... Baines
Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio ... Donna De Angelo
Jimmy MacDonell Jimmy MacDonell ... Randy Mason
Kathryn Grody ... Frankie
Rita Taggart ... Lou
Mérit Carlson-van Dort Mérit Carlson-van Dort ... Stacy
Monica Brandner Monica Brandner ... Corky
Maria Gladziszewski Maria Gladziszewski ... Denise
Kris Kristofferson ... Smilin' Jack
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Storyline

Limbo tells the story of people trying to reinvent themselves in the Southeastern islands of Alaska. The story revolves around Joe Gastineau, a fisherman traumatised by an accident at sea years before, singer Donna de Angelo and her disaffected daughter Noelle who come into Joe's life. When Joe's fast-talking half-brother Bobby returns to town and asks Joe for a favor, the lives of the characters are changed forever. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

A condition of unknowable outcome See more »


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Filmed entirely in Alaska. See more »

Goofs

On some occasions when Noelle is reading from the diary in the cabin, she's sitting with her back to the fireplace. Since the fire is the only source of light at night, that would put the diary in shadow and make it unreadable. See more »

Quotes

Joe: So, how did your stuff end up at his place?
Donna: Unforeseen circumstances.
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Soundtracks

(Lookin' For) The Heart of Saturday Night
Written by Tom Waits
Performed by Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio
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User Reviews

promising disappointment
20 November 1999 | by Buddy-51See all my reviews

Patience may be a requisite for enjoying "Limbo," the latest opus from John Sayles, a filmmaker who always challenges the limits of commercial moviemaking and who values the art of storytelling in his films as much as visual design. His movies are not for all tastes, however, and much of his latest film seems languid and unfocused, even though it is filled with fine performances, beautiful majestic vistas of the Alaskan wilderness and an audacious assumption that the audience need not be "wowed" in the first fifteen minutes to ensure their continued interest.

As with most of his films, Sayles employs a novelistic approach, patiently gathering the strands of his story together as he introduces us to each of his various characters. Slowly, almost leisurely, we get to meet the people who occupy this Alaskan town as they take their place upon the canvas Sayles has painted. Some emerge as major players in the tale; some burst forth for a brief moment then recede to the background. The main characters include a former fisherman, guilt ridden by the deaths of two of his friends while on a boat outing and an aging club singer, desperately attempting to cope with a failing career, a succession of loser boyfriends, and a deeply troubled teenaged daughter who barely tolerates her mother and who abuses herself by cutting gashes into her arms as a cry for understanding and some stability in her life.

One of the problems with the narrative is that Sayles sets up a set of other characters and conflicts around these three main players, yet virtually drops them all when the three of them become stranded on an uninhabited island and the focus shifts entirely to them. Unfortunately, neither the singer, Donna De Angelo (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio), nor her daughter, Noelle (Vanessa Martinez), nor, especially, the fisherman, Joe Gastineau (David Strathairn), are sufficiently interesting in themselves to carry the weight of the whole drama. What we lose is the richness provided by the Alaskan locals, be they fish canners suddenly left unemployed by the closing of a local plant, the tourist representative and the logging industry leader who clash over the age old issue of commerce vs. environment, or the endless stream of geriatric tourists drifting by in the background creating a surreal image for the foreground drama. These are the elements that rivet our attention and it is just these elements that evaporate in the second half of the film. The conventional family-relations drama we are left with provides insufficient compensation.

Special note should be taken, however, of Mastrantonio's finely fleshed out interpretation of a mother struggling to come to grips with a myriad of problems and frustrations and just trying to find some personal peace and fulfillment in her world. Strathairn, however, underplays his role so excessively that he often appears invisible in the film. As the daughter, Martinez is winning and effective.

The movie also tacks on a silly lady-or-the-tiger ending that, in the context of a more meaningful, daring film, might have been audacious and thoughtprovoking. Here, however, it merely smacks of either last minute lack of inspiration or, (a more sinister possibility) simple authorial smugness.

All in all, "Limbo" emerges as one of John Sayles's lesser cinematic achievements.


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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

7 July 1999 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

Ennen kuolemaa See more »

Filming Locations:

Alaska, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$10,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$139,634, 6 June 1999

Gross USA:

$2,160,710

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$2,160,710
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Green/Renzi See more »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital | SDDS

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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