Judge Brett Cullum discovers a trailer full of stars from the '90s pretending to be in a Tarantino film.
Our reviews of Breathless (1960) Criterion Collection (published October 23rd, 2007), Breathless (1960) (Blu-ray) Criterion Collection (published September 30th, 2010), and Breathless (1960) (Blu-ray) Criterion Collection (published February 27th, 2014) are also available.
Even a good woman has her breaking point.
Breathless (2012) shouldn't be confused with either the classic 1960 French film or the 1983 Richard Gere remake. Instead, this is an unapologetic homage to the works of Quentin Tarantino and the Coen Brothers, where a group of well-known actors are put in an ultra-violent intense situation. Comedy, humor, and lots of gore intersect over a crime thinner where all the characters talk to each other incessantly. It works thanks to a game cast, but it might feel like it's arriving a little late. Twenty years ago, this flick would've felt fresh. Now it just feels like a grindhouse revival.
The plot places all the action in one simple location, a trailer out in the middle of West Texas nowhere. A trashy housewife (Gina Gershon, Showgirls) gets fed up when she finds out her small time crook husband (Val Kilmer, Batman Forever) has robbed a bank and plans not to share the loot. She hog ties him and promptly calls her best friend (Kelli Giddish, Law and Order: Special Victims Unit). Things seem to be going okay, until the housewife accidentally shoots her hubby in the head, and then a persistent detective (Richard Riehle, O Brother, Where Art Thou?) shows up with the local sheriff (Ray Liotta, Goodfellas). All the characters go through a ton of twists and turns, and it's anybody's guess who (if anyone) is going to make it out of this trailer alive.
The cast consists of people who were big in the '90s. They all seem just fine taking on this sort of material, delivering performances which are fun and lively. Gina Gershon wraps her sly toothy smile around the character, and takes center stage from start to finish. Val Kilmer is funny in his short-lived turn as the husband, and the rest of the ensemble keep things bouncing along with delicious relish.
Breathless gets bogged down in its script, trying too hard to be one of those "you don't see it coming" twist-and-turn black comedy crime dramas. In the end, it feels recycled and more than a little predictable; a pastiche of very familiar parts culled from movies made two decades ago. Even Gershon has Bound on her resume, which out thrills this basic little film. But if you liked those movies way back when, this kind of works as a lesser copy.
You're not going to find a thing wrong with Anchor Bay's top notch technical presentation. The 2.35:1/1080p HD transfer is richly detailed, vibrant, and polished to a nice sheen. The TrueHD 5.1 Surround mix does just as well with the dialogue and ambient effects. The speaker fields are playful, with plenty of directional depth and no distortion, even when the characters yell. Extras include a detailed commentary from director Jesse Baget and one of his producers, making-of featurette, and a standard def DVD copy.
A good cast runs through a decent script, delivering exactly what it's aiming for—a B-movie that would play well at a late night grindhouse film festival. Fans will be tickled to see Gina Gershon, Val Kilmer, and Ray Liotta go for their former glory and almost get there. Too bad the script just doesn't provide anything more than what's predicted.
Free to go with a citation for being a '90s carbon copy.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Anchor Bay
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