1993, R, 122 min. Directed by Peter Weir. Starring Jeff Bridges, John Turturro, Rosie Perez, Isabella Rossellini.

REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., Oct. 29, 1993

Peter Weir returns to his mystical roots with mixed results in this tale of a plane crash survivor (Bridges) and his altered perception of life and death. Hailed as a hero by the media for rescuing a number of fellow passengers as their airliner exploded around them, Bridges' character, Max Klein, wants none of it. In the wake of this tumultuous fall from the sky, he suffers from what shrink Turturro deems post-traumatic stress disorder. Bridges, on the other hand, just thinks he's managed to rediscover life (and all its glory). Regarding the crash, he tells Turturro, “It was the best thing that ever happened to me.” Enter Perez, another survivor who's slipped into an unreachable depression, stemming mainly from the fact that her two-year-old son slipped from her grasp upon impact and perished in the crash. Inconsolable, she's surrounded (as is Bridges) by lawyers insisting she try to profit from her misery. (Tom Hulce attains new heights of weaseliness as a profiteering ambulance chaser who prefaces each statement with the utterance, “I know, I'm terrible, but...”). Bridges joins up with Perez and manages to bring the shell-shocked young woman around, eventually. Weir's nifty premise goes off the deep end, though, when he begins using ethereal flashbacks to the crash (along with way too much religious symbolism, I might add. It's really not necessary to stuff shining beacons down our throats every other scene...) and swollen orchestral scoring to denote “important” bits of plotline. Weir's earlier films, i.e., The Last Wave and Picnic at Hanging Rock managed to get away with such treacly nonsense by sheer virtue of their effusiveness. No such luck here. Like the fellow behind me muttered as the end credits rolled, “What the hell was that?”

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More Peter Weir Films
The Way Back
In this film set in 1940 and directed by Peter Weir, seven multinational prisoners in a Siberian labor camp escape and walk 4,000 miles to safety in India.

Marc Savlov, Jan. 28, 2011

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Fearless, Peter Weir, Jeff Bridges, John Turturro, Rosie Perez, Isabella Rossellini

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