Lone Star

( 8 )

Overview

Reminiscent of a fine novel in depth and complexity, writer-director John Sayles' acclaimed drama uses the investigation of a 25-year-old murder as the framework for a detailed exploration of life in a Texas border town. The nominal center of the film is Sheriff Sam Deeds the superb, subtle Chris Cooper, the chief law officer of the town of Frontera. The low-key Sam is also the son of the late Buddy Deeds played in flashbacks by Matthew McConaughey, who also served as town sheriff and still maintains a legendary ...
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Overview

Reminiscent of a fine novel in depth and complexity, writer-director John Sayles' acclaimed drama uses the investigation of a 25-year-old murder as the framework for a detailed exploration of life in a Texas border town. The nominal center of the film is Sheriff Sam Deeds the superb, subtle Chris Cooper, the chief law officer of the town of Frontera. The low-key Sam is also the son of the late Buddy Deeds played in flashbacks by Matthew McConaughey, who also served as town sheriff and still maintains a legendary status for ousting the vicious, corrupt Charlie Wade a memorably vicious Kris Kristofferson. The discovery of Wade's decades-old skeleton, however, calls this legend into question, and forces Sam to begin an investigation. During this search for the truth, Sam must come to terms with his own troubled emotions about his father and his still-lingering romantic feelings for Pilar Elizabeth Peña, a Hispanic woman that Buddy had prevented him from seeing as a young man. Lone Star's scope encompasses not only this story but the whole town, addressing Pilar's difficulties as a schoolteacher, the conflict between incoming immigrants and border patrol officers, and the troubles faced by the African-American commander of the local military base. Sayles expertly moves between past and present, weaving his stories together to illustrate, as in his earlier City of Hope 1991, how the seemingly disparate parts of a community are in fact intimately interconnected. Raising issues of race, politics, and identity, Lone Star nevertheless focuses most of its attention on its complex, believable characters, well-performed by an excellent ensemble cast. One of the most financially successful of Sayles' low-key movies, Lone Star received glowing notices and an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay.
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide
A searing, thoughtful portrait of life in a Texas border town, Lone Star is one part history lesson, one part sociological study, one part murder mystery. A high point in the career of writer/director John Sayles, the film is a graceful balancing act: unshowy and low-key, it weaves together disparate stories into one compelling narrative, making even its minor characters into individuals of dimension and substance. Using the murder angle as a pretext rather than a plot, Sayles makes it a window through which subjects as diverse as border politics, racial prejudice, dark family secrets, and even a repressed, decades-old romance can be viewed. Lone Star was also Sayles' most successful film; unlike much of his previous work, it was embraced by a mainstream audience, and a number of critics hailed it as the best film of the year. Sayles' method of storytelling, which had occasionally gotten him into trouble for its novel-like complexity and density, served him well in this instance. Lone Star is the cinematic equivalent of a compulsive page-turner, a thoroughly engaging story filled with characters that are plentiful yet not shabbily rendered, and intrigue that is thought-provoking rather than sensational.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 9/21/1999
  • UPC: 053939251531
  • Original Release: 1996
  • Rating:

  • Source: Turner Home Ent
  • Format: VHS

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Chris Cooper Sam Deeds
Elizabeth Peña Pilar Cruz
Joe Morton Delmore Payne
Ron Canada Otis Payne
Clifton James Hollis Pogue
Kris Kristofferson Charlie Wade
Miriam Colon Mercedes Cruz
Gabriel Casseus Young Otis
Richard Coca
Stephen J. Lang
Matthew McConaughey Buddy Deeds
Frances McDormand Bunny
Stephen Mendillo
Jeff Monahan Young Hollis
Tay Strathairn Young Sam
Gondon Tootoosis
Chandra Wilson Pvt. Johnson
Beatrice Winde Minnie Bledsoe
Technical Credits
John Sayles Director, Editor, Screenwriter
Dan Bishop Production Designer
Kyler Black Art Director
Shay Cunliffe Costumes/Costume Designer
Mason K. Daring Score Composer, Songwriter
Stuart Dryburgh Cinematographer
Jan Foster Associate Producer
Dianna Freas Set Decoration/Design
Avy Kaufman Casting
Paul Miller Producer
John Powditch Asst. Director
Maggie Renzi Producer
John Sloss Executive Producer
Clive Winter Sound/Sound Designer
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 8 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(5)

4 Star

(2)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

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1 Star

(1)

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Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Best movie I've ever seen

    In my personal opinion, this is the best movie I've ever seen. It's better everytime I see it. One friend hates it, I know people who think it's just okay. I love it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Lines of Demarcation

    This is a movie about borders, or in other words, definitions. It defines and crosses borders and asks us to challenge our assumptions about borders. Sayles wants us to ask ourselves why certain borders/prohibitions/definitions are in place. Do they make sense? Do they appropriately capture the complexity of the situation in Frontera? In the words of bar owner, Otis Payne, “Blood only means what you let it.” So in other words, we as a community are responsible for defining race and family relations. Are the lines of demarcation clear and defined, as the redneck bartender would like to believe? Or are they occasionally random and arbitrary? Sayles urges to explore the borderlands and decide the significance for ourselves. In fact, he blurs the line of time by seamlessly moving forward and backward through time by using pan shots. The passing of time is no longer a barrier to the telling of the story. I think what we actually discover is that life more closely mirrors the philosophy of Otis: “It’s not like there’s a borderline between the good people and the bad. You’re not on only one side or the other.” As Sam struggles to discover if his father was “good” or “bad” and finds his own answer, we too can challenge our preconceptions about race, gender, sex, nationality, and history.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    An absolute must see for serious film students

    John Sayles is perhaps one of the best pure story tellers working in film today. But his films always tend to be small and quiet, and this one is no exception. The film takes some patience as the various storylines are woven so intricately.<p> The screenplay was very deservedly nominated for an Oscar, and might have won... were it not up against Fargo which was brilliantly written as well. Were I teaching a class in how to write a cracking good story, this film would be in the syllabus.<p> Chris Cooper's quiet, typically understated, performance pretty much steals the show, and this film is perhaps his best work. Kristofferson is brilliant in his brief appearrances, all in flashback. And Matthew McConaughey fans will be disappointed as his character has perhaps the least screen time of any of the stories principals. It is not 'stars' who carry this picture, but rather the entire cast.<p> This film deals with the sometimes sordid under currents that you'd find in any small town and injects the always simmering Tex-Mex border into the middle. I can't recommend this film enough.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    A sleeper...one of the best

    This movie is quietly complex with a great cast. The script is wonderful, It's more than a mystery, it's a commentary on a time and place and touches on the lives of a dozen characters. It's the best Sayles movie and Sayles is consistenly good.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Lone Star Sociology Review

    Lone Star Review The movie Lone Star (1996) is like a fine wine. With every viewing it gets better. It’s a wonderful reflection of America, with its racism, cover-ups, dysfunctional families, grudges, and the progressive but painful changes for the better we make, sometimes reluctantly, as we cross the borders of old. There are dividing lines everywhere. The movie takes place in a town on the Texas Mexican border. There are lines between the races, Mexicans, Whites, and Blacks, managing to live “together” in segregated fashion. However, as time goes on, the once closeted miscegenation continues to unveil itself. The potential political power of the majority Mexican population emerges with Whites realizing their days in power are numbered. Taking place in present day with intermittent flashbacks to the past one gets a feel for the history of Rio County. Its citizens a product of the past the elders have managed to hide in their own embellishments making legends and heroes along the way. In 1957, the residing sheriff Charles Wade ends up missing, but not necessarily missed by the residents of color in Rio County. Charles Wade, played by Kris Kristofferson, terrorizes Rio County using unlawful imprisonment, extortion, and murder, with impunity. When his deputy Buddy Deeds takes over as Sheriff, the town is able to exhale, favors instead of fear rule for the next thirty years. Presently, Buddy Deeds son, Sam Deeds, returns to Rio County as Sheriff, but he is never able to come close to the legend his father was. When a skeleton is found on an old firing range, an investigation ensues in what appears to be the murder of Charles Wade, with Buddy Deeds as prime suspect. In investigating a murder from the past, Buddy Deeds’ son, played by Chris Cooper, puts the pieces of the past’s puzzle back together answering questions and revealing truths that have the ability to heal the towns wounds and his own. There is so much intrigue to this movie to reveal more would take away from the joy of watching. Just be prepared for a treat, as each scene is interconnected to each other, with layers of the movie’s messages being uncovered in the telling dialogue. My favorite being when Chucho Montoya, while being interviewed by Sam Deeds, draws a line in the dirt with a coke bottle (referring to the border) and says, “Do you think a bird sees that line? You think halfway past that line they start thinking different? Why should a man?” When Sam says to Chucho, “Your government seems to be happy with a line drawn…” Chucho replies, “My government can go **** itself and so can yours, I’m talking about people here, it’s about men.” That night, Sam goes to see his first and only true love Pilar, a Mexican American schoolteacher. Lone Star has many of my favorite elements in movies: mystery, romance, and familial relationships. It is a movie worth watching and worthy of conversation afterwards. Lone Star Review The movie Lone Star (1996) is like a fine wine. With every viewing it gets better. It’s a wonderful reflection of America, with its racism, cover-ups, dysfunctional families, grudges, and the progressive but painful changes for the better we make, sometimes reluctantly, as we cross the borders of old. There are dividing lines everywhere. The movie takes place in a town on the Texas Mexican border. There are lines between the races, Mexicans, Whites, and Blacks, managing to live “together” in segregated fashion. However, as time goes on, the once closeted miscegenation continues to unveil itself. The potential political power of the majority Mexican population emerges with Whites realizing their days in power are numbered. Taking place in present day with intermittent flashbacks to

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Don't miss it...

    This is an excellent movie that hasn't gotten nearly enough attention. Chris Cooper plays a bordertown sheriff living unwillingly in his dead father's shadow who is trying to solve a 20-year old murder. Flashbacks are used constantly to give you the full story of the town's black, white and Latino residents. Kristofferson is delightful as a sleazy, heartless sheriff. (I like him best in evil roles.) If you like taut dramas with complex plots, very good acting and a splash of romance, this one will be quite a treat.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 26, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted April 27, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews