1991, R, 120 min. Directed by Lili Fini Zanuck. Starring Jason Patric, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Max Perlich, Gregg Allman, Sam Elliott.
REVIEWED By Kathleen Maher, Fri., Jan. 10, 1992
For her directorial debut, Lili Zanuck has chosen Kim Wozencraft's semiautobiographical novel about a couple of cops in Beaumont, Texas who crossed the line while working undercover. It's a long way away from Driving Miss Daisy, which she co-produced. In that and the way it deals with drugs in a very matter-of-fact and perhaps even sympathetic manner, it's a risky project, but Zanuck lays the groundwork carefully. Leigh plays an innocent determined to do a good job. She doesn't want to look naive so she goes along with her more worldly partner. Patric's hot shot cop is cocky and arrogant. In this, he's perfect. He's sexy, believable and a tad insufferable. When more complicated emotion is called for, however, Patric becomes more show than substance and Leigh has to take up the slack. Yet their love affair is as touching and believable as it is inevitable. They're all they've got out there on the edge. As they slide deeper into drug addiction, they're like Jack and Jill hanging on to each other for dear life on the ride down. Far from Hollywood's glittery coke fantasies, or gritty urban crack jungles, Rush is set in the hot, steamy honky-tonks on the Texas coast where the oil field workers play, and where they look for a little something to get them through another rough work week. Gregg Allman is very plausibly cast as a mysterious Texas kingpin who just may or may not be the biggest drug dealer on the coast. The small town authorities want him so bad they don't care whether he's guilty or innocent or who does what to get him. Reflecting the upside-down world they're living in, the most attractive character is not the bent cops, but the luckless character they tag to be their snitch. Perlich's friendly hustler might not be able to figure out right from wrong from a cop's point of view, but he has a good handle on honor. Perlich seems to have wandered in out of some low down dive to remind us of someone we knew and liked long ago. He is the ghost of long nights past. Rush is a little like that itself. Regardless of where we've been or what we've done, it rings true. Living in the twilight, between right, wrong, legal, illegal, good, bad, is dangerous but it's sheer hypocrisy to deny its attraction.