The film unfolds in a series of interlocking scenes, all occurring at different times. The talebeing told concerns the arrival in a small Oklahoma town of an ex-con (Kevin Anderson), whodeveloped a prison-correspondence romance with shy Martha Plimpton. In the present, SheriffHal Holbrook is investigating a murder, and the flashbacks to Anderson and Plimpton, as wellas another series of flashbacks involving a quiet, somewhat disturbed teenager (Nick Stahl),show us what led …o the murder. The film is a quiet exercise in despair and inevitable tragedy,with excellent performances, and a marvellous script. A fine example of a well-executed feel-badfilm.
The soundtrack is a 2.0 mix, but is a very successful one. The sense of environment is almostconstant, and the effects are well chosen — if you hear something coming from the rear speakers,it makes sense for that something to be coming from there. The music sounds very nice too, andthe dialogue is without distortion. There is, however, an odd blip in the sound about 40 minutesin.
The format is 1.85:1 widescreen (though not, as far as I can determine, anamorphic). Theprint isn’t perfectly clean. There are bits of dirt and some speckling throughout, though thecleanliness improves vastly after the first couple of minutes. Some of the daytime exteriors arerather grainy, especially when the sky is in the shot. The colours, contrasts and flesh tones areall solid. The image is very sharp, and I didn’t notice any edge enhancement difficulties.
The basic menu and 1997 release date might lead you to expect another bare-bones disc, butalong with the trailer (triggered when you select the Lions Gate logo) there is a full commentaryby writer/director Tim Blake Nelson. Though he engages in some unnecessary plot explanation,he speaks well, and reveals plenty of information on how individual scenes were done, who’swho in the film, and what his intentions were.
Gruelling, but recommended, this is a fine example of quality low-budget suspense.
Special Features List
- Director’s Commentary