Sunday, January 10, 2010

The High Country

(Harvey Hart, 1981)
When I say I like this movie, I am using the word 'like' as a superlative, the way you'd apply it to your best friend if you weren't drunk. I am automatically skeptical of quirky romantic comedies, but while this hews very closely to the structural expectations of the genre, it fleshes out the details with a lot of wit. Timothy Bottoms and Linda Purl's performances are brilliantly conceived and executed - eccentric both relative to the genre and in and of themselves, they actually nudge the material toward screwball on occasion, but are so humane that they add something resembling depth to the background commentaries on crime and disability and social withdrawal. Director Hart had me from - that's right - the attempted rape scene, executed with such purpose, concision and tonal control that I had to turn it off while I absorbed how resoundingly right it was - and how funny! The rest of the movie has comparably pleasurable surprises in tone and timing. The ending is a bit too inevitable and a bit too pat, but by then you're won over anyway and it doesn't matter.

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