Tuesday, July 10, 2012

ONE FALSE MOVE (1992) - Carl Franklin

Long before his singing career, the Hollywood hairpieces and his Oscar win for eating "French Fried potaters," Billy Bob Thornton was a pretty darn good writer of neo-noir. Judging from this film, he also used to have a ponytail. One False Move blew me away back in my early film school days. It seemed to come out of nowhere. It's portrayal of a very recognizable South peopled with both despicable white characters and equally desperate, despicable black characters was a minor revelation. The movie was an equal opportunity offender. No race got off easy. Everybody was a little bad, especially Bill Paxton's clueless good 'ol boy sheriff at the center.

Does this have anything to do with the director being black? I don't know, maybe. Does it have anything to do with the director being the criminally underrated Carl Franklin? Most certainly. Some of the narrative surprises in One False Move may have dulled in the last 20 years now that mixed race couples are no longer a novelty but something closer to the norm. Overall, the film holds up as a tight, well-written neo-noir thriller. Two decades later, the ending with a gut-shot Paxton and the little kid hovering over him is still jawdroppingly good.

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