|LONE STAR (1996) |
There are some actors that never give less than a great performance and Chris Cooper is one of them. Examples include his early role in “City of Hope” in 1991, to the orchid thief in “Adaptation” in 2002, to a CIA Chief in” Bourne Identity”, also in 2002, to playing the FBI traitor Robert Hansen in “Breach,” and just recently playing Jerry Vogel, the journalist’s father in “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.” Paired with director John Sayles in “Lone Star” you have some fascinating film viewing ahead. Cooper plays a sheriff in a small Texas border town along the Rio Grande. Told in flashbacks – the movie keeps pointing out that, as William Faulkner said, “The past is never dead, it’s not even past.” This is dramatized in the strife from generation to generation, and between the town’s white, latino, and black residents. The hornet’s nest and plot device are kicked up when two army officers, cataloging local fauna, discover the remains of a body. An investigation determines the remains to have been those of the old racist Sheriff Sam Wade (played in flashbacks by Kris Kristofferson). The investigation is led by Sam Deeds (Cooper) whose father was then deputy sheriff Buddy Deeds (played by Matthew McConaughey), and now the suspected murderer.Sheriff Deeds’ investigation brings out many of the town folks’ feelings about the past and the present, about race, class and their life. The Commanding Officer of the nearby Army Base is black, yet he doesn’t get along with his father who owns the local bar. Deeds interacts with Pilar (Elizabeth Pena) his first teenage love, but from whom he was kept apart by their parents. Now their love rekindles and flames anew. Each town character, however small the role, reinforces the themes of the story and is fully fleshed out. Current scenes of the investigation or dialogues dissolve effortlessly into scenes in the same place from 25 and 30 years earlier.This independent film is a perfect work combining script and direction by Sayles, along with acting, cinematography, story-telling and plot with its apt ending. Given the movie is 24 years old, its story is still relevant today. This is one of many reasons to watch “Lone Star.” Nominated for an Academy Award for Best Screenplay.