Oliver Stone gives us a film that is completely over the top in style, but completely brilliant. He barely gives us time to get used to one style or angle before he’s on to the next one. Now black and white, now colour, this angle, that angle; filmed through a camcorder; animation and a whole section done as a naff 70s sitcom (complete with canned laughter) about child abuse and wife-beating.
Quentin Tarantino wrote the story, so you can get an idea of the ambience of the film. It also makes me wonder if some of Stone’s directorial techniques rubbed off on Tarantino and he stored the ideas away until he made Kill Bill.
The primary theme here is that of America’s obsession with violence in the media, but I also think there is a sideswipe at the American dream. That dream is all very well as long as you conform to society’s expectations. OK, so killing your way across a state is a bit extreme, but the message is comparable with Chris McCandless in Into the Wild (2007), or Jenny in Forrest Gump (1994). The film also demonstrates how love conquers all, even solitary confinement!
All the cast are fabulous; not only Woody Harrelson and Juliette Lewis as the eponymous protagonists, but also Tommy Lee Jones, Tom Sizemore and particularly Robert Downey Jr. in a role that he owns almost as much as Tony Stark. Not only in isolation, but everyone also plays off each other perfectly; Woody and Juliette have tremendous chemistry, but Woody and Robert are excellent during the live interview from prison.
A very excellent film which doesn’t give the viewer a minute’s rest; but given the talent both behind and in front of the camera, you don’t really want a break from the intensity. But, you know, that’s just, like, my opinion man.