State Of Grace (Phil Joanou, 1990)

Discuss films and filmmakers of the 20th century (and even a little of the 19th century). Threads may contain spoilers.
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#1 Post by flyonthewall2983 » Mon Nov 21, 2005 12:46 pm

Has anyone else seen this? I caught it on cable about a month ago and was impressed more than I thought.

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#2 Post by dvdane » Thu Nov 24, 2005 3:04 am

It is one very overlooked masterpiece of gangsterfilm, almost transcending genre, alluding both western, especially the McCarthy paranoia westerns, and King Lear, in the same manner Mann's "Man from Laramie" is King Lear.

It is also one of the best acted films of the 90s, a demonstration in restraint and respect, as even though Sean Penn has the lead, both he and Ed Harris stand back for Gary Oldman, who gives his character all he can.

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#3 Post by Le Feu Follet » Fri Jul 21, 2006 8:45 am

This is a very remarkable film. I love the credits, which 'join up' with the final sequence. Hasn't Oldman said that he thinks this is his best movie performance? And what a Morricone score! It is very hard to understand how this film has been so overlooked.

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#4 Post by TedW » Fri Jul 21, 2006 6:20 pm

Loved this film when it came out. Saw it again recently and wondered what I was thinking. I'm not sure I would applaud Gary Oldman for his "restraint," but he's good playing a fairly stock character, the Hot-Headed Best Friend Who Is Going To Bring Everybody Down. OTT Oldman is usually the best Oldman. But I didn't think Penn's character was drawn specifically enough, nor was his relationship with Robin Wright compelling enough, for me to invest in his crisis of conscience... and thus the movie had no emotional impact for me at the conclusion. FOR ME, I stress. Even the great Jordan Cronenweth's photography, which I once lauded, I found unncessarily overwrought in many places. Good score, though.

For my money, the best performance belongs to Ed Harris. Now there's a complete characterization: he coveys Frank's uncomfortableness, his insecurity at not being smart enough or strong enough to lead his family in a war against Borelli, and subsequent rage. Here's an actor who's at his most interesting playing characters who are tightly, tightly coiled, just barely holding themselves in check. So when he does explode, it's not just explosiveness, it's explosiveness rooted in something dramatic and human. And all with no dialogue, just the way he does what he does. Very impressive. If only the movie had at least two other characters that interesting...

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