Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Alaska is for Lost Souls: Limbo

Limbo (1999) - John Sayles
Limbo Starts out like a typical John Sayles (Matewan, Lone Star) lesson in social anthropology. This time it's in Alaska: there are two types of people- ones who wear four thousand dollars worth of Gore-Tex and treat the 49th State like a theme park and there are the rest- working class sad sacks at a local tavern, drinking and lamenting. Then it turns into a lost in the great outdoors movie without abiding to any of the genre stereotype. It's a marvel to observe three people trapped both physically and figuratively in dread called life where the only outlet just might be death.

Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio (Donna) and David Strathairn (Joe) are both marvelous as lonely middle aged people who made some bad choices in their past and now only live for a couple of moments of bliss- on stage and on a fishing boat. Donna's morbid teenage daughter Noelle connects with Joe's earnest, guileless observations on their stranded-on-a-deserted-island situation. What can I say? Not a single false note in its two hour running time, Limbo is a beautifully written film about purgatory(with an end) that is effortlessly carried out with much affection and melancholy.

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