The discovery of a buried skeleton sparks a 40-year old
murder case that shakes a small Texas border town to its core.
Lone Star (1996)
Written and Directed by John Sayles
Starring Chris Cooper, Elizabeth Peña, Miriam Colon,
Kris Kristoffferson, Matthew McConaughey,
Joe Morton, Ron Canada, Clifton James
Oscar Nominations - Best Original Screenplay
Lone Star is a sort of a western version of Chinatown, complete with a freaky incest subplot. This film uses the narrative structure of a film noir and tweaks it with a little bit of modern racism against Mexicans to craft an engaging crime drama that utilizes its talented cast in the best ways. Films like this prove that not every film spoonfeeds the information to the audience. In some cases, you have to pay attention to connect the dots.
The story revolves around the finding of a 40-year old skeleton that turns out to be the corpse of the tyrannical old sheriff who disappeared. When current sheriff Sam Deeds (Chris Cooper) launches an investigation, he finds secrets connecting the entire town to one another, eventually winding around to his own father (Matthew McConaughey) being involved in the sheriff's murder. As the secrets come to life, the film's overall snail's pace subsides and things finally start to get interesting. I'm still not entirely sure what Joe Morton's whole storyline was supposed to be about, but I digress.
Lone Star succeeds in being a modern noir, but lacks the expert direction and smart dialogue to be truly memorable. Despite its great cast and numerous plot twists, it suffers greatly because of its incredibly slow pace and buildup. Though it eventually becomes intriguing, by the time the excitement arrives, you're already wishing the movie was over. Still, for fans of modern westerns and neo-noirs, Lone Star is worth checking out. Just prepare for a haul.