Desert Blue (1998)    1 Stars


Desert Blue (1998)
Desert Blue (1998)


Director: Morgan J. Freeman

Cast: Casey Affleck, Brendan Sexton III, Kate Hudson

Synopsis: A young man in a desert town is determined to complete his dead father’s project, a water slide.





WARNING! This review contains SPOILERS!

I never know whether to admire films like Desert Blue or feel cheated by them. While watching the movie I was absorbed enough not to be bored, and even managed to enjoy a few performances, but after it had finished I almost immediately wondered what the point had been. Not just of the film, but of the incidents and characters within it.

Why did the character played by Michael Ironside (Visiting Hours, Total Recall) become such a flake? Why did his partner let Christina Ricci (The Addams Family, Addams Family Values) off after she blew up Ironside’s car? Why was Kate Hudson such a stuck-up prima donna for the first ten minutes of the movie and a sweet-natured everygirl for the rest of the running time? Why didn’t Casey Affleck (Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, Interstellar), when prevented by the FBI from leaving town, simply ride half-a-mile into the desert and skirt the roadblock? Why was Blue’s mum obsessed with UFOs? How did a single middle-aged academic with a love of Americana come to have a TV-star daughter? Why did all those teenage boys need a ‘what-would-you-do-if-this-was-the-last-night-of-your-life’ type question to think about getting off with the girls they were with? Why are there so many characters with nothing to contribute?

The list goes on and on, and it’s a shame because, initially, the film nicely captures the leisurely pace and atmosphere of small town life, and sets you up for what you think is going to be a finely-etched character study. Instead, you get a wildly improbable plot device to prevent Hudson and her father leaving town, and the whole thing starts to go wrong from there.

As I mentioned earlier, it’s probably to the film’s credit that it was only after it had finished that all these questions and shortcomings came to mind. So, if you’re thinking of watching this flick make sure you’ve got a top-notch favourite to watch straight afterward. That way, maybe you won’t feel so let down…

(Reviewed 16th March 2002)

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