Friday, January 10, 2014

The Loveless (1982 film)

Written and directed by Kathryn Bigelow and Monty Montgomery, The Loveless is the story about a motorcycle gang who arrives in a small Southern town where they find themselves in a strange world where one of the bikers deals with this strange sense of loneliness. It’s a film that plays into a world of culture clash between wild yet cool bikers and conservatives in this remote Southern town. Starring Willem Dafoe, Robert Gordon, Marin Kanter, and J. Don Ferguson. The Loveless is an excellent film from Kathryn Bigelow and Monty Montgomery.

The film has this simple story about a motorcycle gang stranded in a small remote town in Florida on their way to a race in Daytona. It’s a film that has a scenario where it is typical in some respects where these bikers are staying at this small town in Florida for a couple of days where they get a snide attitude from the conservative locals. Yet, Kathryn Bigelow and Monty Montgomery manage to inject some substance into the story where the bikers are just there so they can fix one of the bikes while drinking and pondering what they’re going to. Most notably as it’s told from the perspective of a man named Vance (Willem Dafoe) who is this loner that deals with his role while he meets a young woman named Telena (Marin Kanter) who wants to leave town and her abusive father (J. Don Ferguson). Through some stylish dialogue as well as a tone where it feels like a place out of time, it is a story that manages to do more than what is expected.

The direction of Bigelow and Montgomery is also very simple yet there are some very striking compositions to play into a world where it might feel like it’s set in the early 1960s but something still feels off once the bikers arrive into town. There is still some element of style in the wide shots and close-ups that is created as well as the sense of macho aesthetics that would later become a part of the visual style that Bigelow would craft in her later films. There’s also some moments where the direction has Bigelow and Montgomery create tension such as a scene at a bar where the bikers and locals converge where it’s more about Vance and his feelings about his place in the world. Overall, Bigelow and Montgomery craft a very engaging and stylish film about bikers stranded in a strange small town that seems to be stuck in time.

Cinematographer Doyle Smith does amazing work with the film‘s very colorful and entrancing cinematography for much of the film‘s daytime scenes and the lights set at night. Editor Nancy Kanter does fantastic work with the editing with its emphasis on style including jump-cuts and montages. Production designer Lily Kilvert does nice work with the look of the garage where the bikers stay to fix a bike as well as the look of the diner and bar they go to. Sound editors Ron Kalish and Sandy Tung do superb work with the film‘s sound from the way the engines sound on the bike to the smaller moments in the places the bikers go to. The film’s music by Robert Gordon is brilliant for its mostly rockabilly score with elements of country and salsa music that includes some additional pieces by John Lurie.

The film’s cast includes some noteworthy small roles from Elizabeth Gans as the friendly waitress Augusta, Jane Berman as a lady Vance meets early in the film, Margaret Jo Lee as the snotty waitress Evie, and Bob Hannah as Telena’s dim-witted uncle Sid. In the role of the bikers, there’s Phillip Kimbrough as the quiet biker Hurley who is trying to fix his bike, Danny Rosen as the young yet energetic Ricky, Lawrence Matarese as the low-key La Ville, and Tina L’Hotsky as biker babe Sportster Debbie. J. Don Ferguson is terrific as Tarver as a local town leader who bullies his way to get what he wants while abusing his daughter Telena.

Marin Kanter is wonderful as Telena as a young woman with a cool car who is eager to get out of town as she meets and falls for Vance. Robert Gordon is excellent as the biker leader Davis as a wild guy who likes to have fun as he deals with the snotty attitude of the town. Finally, there’s Willem Dafoe in a marvelous performance as Vance as a biker who deals with his role in life as he’s in this small town as he tries to be cool only to deal with trouble.

The Loveless is a fantastic film from Kathryn Bigelow and Monty Montgomery that features a superb performance from Willem Dafoe. While it doesn’t have much of a plot or story, it does make up for those shortcomings through its vibrant visuals and eerie tension as it’s a film that fans of Bigelow and Dafoe should seek out. In the end, The Loveless is a terrific film from Kathryn Bigelow and Monty Montgomery.

Kathryn Bigelow Films: Near Dark - Blue Steel - Point Break - Strange Days - The Weight of Water - K-19: The Widowmaker - The Hurt Locker - Zero Dark Thirty - The Auteurs #29: Kathryn Bigelow

© thevoid99 2014


ruth said...

I'm always surprised how many genres Bigelow has tackled in her career. Wow look at young Willem Dafoe, he could've played a vampire really convincingly I think, wonder if perhaps he has done that before.

thevoid99 said...

He actually did play a vampire, sort of in Shadow of the Vampire as Max Schrek where he played a man playing a vampire.

Mullet said...

I love this movie, as bad as it is. The vehicles (especially the motorcycles, of course), the clothing, the hairstyles, and the sets are all fantastic. The photography is beautiful and the characters are great to watch. It’s kinda cheesy but really cool. You gotta overlook some of the performances because that’s what they were going for. The local rednecks are a lot of fun.

thevoid99 said...

@Mullet-It's not a great film but certainly an interesting one.