Title:  Limbo

Release Date:  1999

Nationality and Language: USA, English

Running time: 126 min

MPAA Rating: R

Distributor and Production Company: Sony Pictures Classics

Director; Writer: John Sayles


Cast:   Kris Kristofferson. Mary Elizabeth Mastranontonio, David Straithairn

Technical: Widescreen

Relevance to DOASKDOTELL site:

Movie Review: Limbo (1999); Directed and Written by: John Sayles; Sony Screen Gems (Sony Pictures Classics); R (mild nudity and sexual situations); 9.0/10

            There is a paradox about John Sayles and his approach to "art" films. That is, the films have a gritty, low-budget look but aspire to make big, grand statements, almost seemingly from nothing.

            This film does this less so than, perhaps, Lone Star. It is shot around Juneau, Alaska and puts the viewer into a "you are there" feeling with the Alaskan coastline and villages. It needed a wide-screen (Panavision) format.

            The story grows out of nothing, or out of a germinal motive, sort of like a Sibelius symphony. A past-his-prime fisherman and odd-jobber meets a middle-aged divorcee with a 12-year-old, intellectual and somewhat sickly daughter. They start an affair as she pays surprisingly little attention to his lean and cinematically appropriately hairless torso. Later, they go on an sea excursion with on his brother's yacht, and it turns into a trip into the Limbo, almost a Twilight-Zone, Twin Peaks David Lynch variety.

            They get boat-jacked (sort of like car-jacked) by the brother's associates (looking for debt repayment??), swim to shore, and spend the rest of the film in an Air Force survivalist exercise, learning to eat algae and sea cucumber. And they are hunted down. When a bush pilot (Kris Kristofferson) finds them from a signal fire after ten days, he leaves it unclear as to whether he is coming back to save them or to execute them.

            The plane returns the next day and the screen goes blank. No near-death experience this time. Just a black out.

            It is tragic. The daugjhter starts a "My Diary" and, although writing mundane experiences of her instant family (pseduo-family) surviving like Robinson Crusoe, she seems to want and leave behind a manifesto, like me. She was the only one to get seasick on the boat in the good-old days.



Related reviews: Silver City, Sunshine State


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