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FOOL FOR LOVE(director/writer: Robert Altman; screenwriter: from the play by Sam Shepard/Sam Shepard; cinematographer: Pierre Mignot; editors: Steve Dunn/Luce Grunenwaldt; music: George Burt; cast: Sam Shepard (Eddie), Kim Basinger (May), Randy Quaid (Martin), Harry Dean Stanton (Old Man), Martha Crawford (May’s Mother), Louise Egolf (Eddie’s Mother), Sura Cox (Teenage May), Jonathan Skinner (Teenage Eddie); Runtime: 108; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Yoram Globus/Menahem Golan; MGM Home Entertainment; 1985)
“It seems like a transplanted drama from the 1950s.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Robert Altman’s (“Streamers”/”Nashville”/”3 Women”) adaptation of Sam Shepard’s play about tabu love between a half-brother and sister is saddled with a tedious slow-tempo and it never sizzles even though it’s fiercely played out. It seems like a transplanted drama from the 1950s. The somewhat off-kilter and claustrophobic film, is filled with languorous movement, long takes, flashbacks, quirky surrealist touches and a trick finale.

Drifter, not too swift, Wyoming rodeo wrangler Eddie (Sam Shepard) turns up on the doorsteps of his former lover, his fading beauty sexpot half-sister May (Kim Basinger), where she resides in a dumpy motel at the edge of the Mojave Desert. The obsessed lovers encounter each other with a lot of tussling, shouting, name calling and angst. Harry Dean Stanton is cast as the drunken Old Man who lives in the motel and turns out to be their father; he acts as a one-man Greek chorus trying to explain what’s going down, but in a cold way without fatherly love.

In its dreamlike musings, it puts its finger on the guilt-trip haunting the relationship of the two sorry sights who can’t live with each other or without each other. Randy Quaid plays Martin, May’s dumb and out of his element nice guy suitor, who seems to be there only as a plot contrivance to make the tricky climax work. But it’s hard to get past at how stagy is the film version, despite its underlying intelligent conceit.

The uneven film was a failure at the box-office and with critics.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”