Monday, July 06, 2015

Fool for Love

Directed by Robert Altman and written and starring Sam Shepard that is based on his play, Fool for Love is the story of a man who finds his former flame in a motel as he tries to get her to come back home. The film is an exploration into a couple’s relationship and their troubled past as well as the motel they’re staying in. Also starring Kim Basinger, Randy Quaid, and Harry Dean Stanton. Fool for Love is an entrancing yet eerie film from Robert Altman.

Set entirely in a motel in the middle of the desert, the film revolves a man who arrives to meet a former flame in an attempt to bring her home as she refuses while her father watches nearby. It is a film where these two people seem to have a history together where they love each other but also can’t stand each other while the woman May (Kim Basinger) is waiting for her date to arrive while her father (Harry Dean Stanton) watches from afar. It is a film that doesn’t just play into the fallacies of love but also into how intense things are where May and Eddie (Sam Shepard) have this love-hate relationship. Sam Shepard’s screenplay does feature a lot of monologues from the major characters in the film but also some flashback scenes that doesn’t just play into their past but also the past of May’s father. Even as May’s date in Martin (Randy Quaid) would arrive late in the film where he would hear some unsettling stories about May and Eddie’s history.

Though it is shot largely in Las Vegas, New Mexico in a motel setting, Robert Altman’s direction does maintain something that is very intimate but also with some stylistic visuals that makes it so much more. Notably in the fact that Altman uses a lot of wide shots to capture the whole setting of the film but also uses some tracking shots and other things to capture some of these conversations. The direction also has Altman use close-ups and medium shots to capture the conversation while using little motel houses to play up the sense of intimacy and tension that looms over May and Eddie. There are also elements of surrealism that relates to May’s father and his recollections of the past where the flashbacks become very prominent in the film’s third act where many secrets are unveiled by both May and Eddie to Martin with May’s father in the room. It’s also something where it does climax into something big but also something that was inevitable as it relates to May and Eddie’s troubled relationship. Overall, Altman creates a very engaging yet haunting film about love in the most complicated way.

Cinematographer Pierre Mignot does excellent work with the film‘s vibrant and colorful cinematography to capture the neon lights of the motel exterior as well as some unique lighting for its interior settings plus some naturalistic images for the flashback scenes. Editors Stephen P. Dunn and Luce Grunenwaldt do nice work with the editing as it‘s very straightforward with a few rhythmic cuts to capture the intensity of the drama. Production designer Stephen Altman and set decorator John Hay do amazing work with the look of the motel homes and its diner as well as the trailer home that May‘s father lives in. Sound mixers Daniel Brisseau and Robert Gravenor do fantastic work with the sound to capture some of the naturalistic sound on location and on set as well as some of the things that goes on outside of the motel. The film’s music by George Burt is wonderful as it is this mixture of eerie orchestral music with some country music textures while much of the soundtrack features some country music pieces by Sandy Rogers and Waylon Jennings to play into the fallacies of love.

The film’s brilliant cast include some notable small performances from Jonathan Skinner as a young Eddie, April Russell and Sura Cox in respective versions as the young and teenage May, Deborah McNaughton as a mysterious woman stalking Eddie known as the Countess, Louis Elgolf as Eddie’s mother, and Martha Crawford as May’s mother in the flashback scenes. Randy Quaid is excellent in a small but memorable performance as May’s date Martin who appears in the film’s third act where he meets Eddie and May’s father as he tries to make sense of what he had just heard from Eddie and May.

Harry Dean Stanton is superb as May’s father as a man who observes what she and Eddie are doing while recalling elements of his own past that would be key to the story. Kim Basinger is great as May as this woman who is trying to start a different life working and living in a motel as she copes with Eddie’s presence and elements of her own past. Finally, there’s Sam Shepard in an amazing performance as Eddie as this man who traveled more than 200 miles to meet May in the hopes that he can bring her home as he is quite impulsive to deal with while revealing more to their troubled relationship to Martin.

Fool for Love is an excellent film from Robert Altman that features top-notch performances from Sam Shepard, Kim Basinger, Harry Dean Stanton, and Randy Quaid. While it might seem like a minor film from Altman in terms of its intimate setting, it is still a very compelling film that explores the fallacies of love. In the end, Fool for Love is a fantastic film from Robert Altman.

Robert Altman Films: (The Delinquents) - (The James Dean Story) - Countdown (1968 film) - (That Cold Day in the Park) - M.A.S.H. - Brewster McCloud - McCabe & Mrs. Miller - (Images) - The Long Goodbye - Thieves Like Us - California Split - Nashville - Buffalo Bill and the Indians, or Sitting Bull’s History Lesson - 3 Women - (A Wedding) - (Quintet) - (A Perfect Couple (HealtH) - Popeye - (Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean) - (Streamers) - (Secret Honor) - (O.C. and Stiggs) - (Beyond Therapy) - (Aria-Les Boreades) - (Tanner ‘88) - (Vincent & Theo) - The Player - Short Cuts - Pret-a-Porter - (Kansas City) - (The Gingerbread Man) - Cookie's Fortune - Dr. T and the Women - Gosford Park - The Company - (Tanner on Tanner) - A Prairie Home Companion

© thevoid99 2015


msmariah said...

Lovely review. This is one of the few Altman films I haven't seen yet. I'm a Sam Shepard fan, so I think I will like this movie.

thevoid99 said...

Yeah, this has been on TV recently and I think this is one of those gems that anyone who loves Altman need to see. It's part of this period of plays that Altman would adapt into film as it did give him something to do during that awful time when he was exiled from Hollywood.