Friday, 15 March 2013

Fool For Love (1985)

Fool For Love is not one of Robert Altman's most popular films, nor is it among his most successful films (box office wise), nor is it considered to be among his greatest films period. It was submitted into the Cannes Film Festival, not because it was a great film, but because it had big names attached.

Fool For Love is based off of a play by Sam Shepard. Shepard is a great play-write, and a great actor. If you want to see a great film based off a play by Shepard, be sure to check out Wim Wenders' Paris, Texas. Both Fool For Love and Paris, Texas have performances from the great character actor, Harry Dean Stanton. I won't make any comparisons, I'll all of that for THE CRITICISM section, below.

At the time Fool For Love was released, Altman was on a binge. He was making several plays into films. This was his fourth in a row. It's predecessors include Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean, Streamers and Secret Honor. Of those three films, all of them are considered to be better than Fool For Love.

I'll come right out and say that the general consensus of Fool For Love is that it's bad. Not terrible, just bad. One might speculate that something was lost in the transfer of actors and director. The original director was Sam Shepard, himself. The stars of the play were Ed Harris and Kathy Baker. Perhaps people couldn't imagine anyone else in the role? Well, changing directors and actors never harmed Elia Kazan's A Streetcar Named Desire!

I can't say too much about Fool For Love, because it's not a very popular film. Where does it stand today? Well, it still manages to hold a 75% on Rotten Tomatoes, however, most of the critics who liked it did not love it, they just found mild appeal. Fool For Love also holds a contradictory 5.7 on IMDb at the moment. Fool For Love is not a classic, it is simply an Altman film.

May is an unhappily woman who is spoken for at the moment when she meets her long lost love, Eddie. He is a cowboy drifter who manages to fill her mind with sensual thoughts. The same can be said for Eddie, who misses May with a passion. As they re-encounter each other they decided to re-kindle their passionate romance. Between intense session of making love and bickering back and forth, there seems to be chemistry between May and Eddie.

All seems a little too perfect until a problem arises. As I mentioned earlier, May is currently spoken for. Her boyfriend, Martin doesn't seem to fond with the concept of his 'gal sleeping around with other men. Just when matters couldn't seem to get worse, in walks an old alcoholic man who seems to know some secrets than could be very hurtful to the couples romance if they are released to the public. Will May and Eddie manage to continue their affair... or will something put a stop to their everlasting love for each other?

When a film revolves around people exchanging dialogue for the entire film... they will tend to overact. In Fool For Love, there are two people who overact. Kim Basinger yells and screams the entire film. I cannot stand to see this in films, because the truth is nobody express themselves so audaciously. Sam Shepard has the same problem, in fact, he may even have a bigger problem with overacting in Fool For Love. This was fairly shocking since Sam Shepard and Kim Basinger are both great actors. One reason for this, could be do to the fact Fool For Love, being originally a play would be written for stage actors. When you're on the stage, you want your power and energy to be felt by everyone in the room. Therefore you do project your voice and you articulate words in a different manner than you would in both reality and on film. I can speculate all day why there is overacting in Fool For Love, but all I know is that they do overact.

There are also two good performances in Fool For Love. The first belongs to Harry Dean Stanton, who is quite good at the beginning slips a little in the end of the film when he joins Kim Basinger and Sam Shepard on the island of people who overact. Harry Dean Stanton's character is an alcoholic old man, so perhaps the alcohol in his bloodstream could be to blame for his overacting at the end of the film. Randy Quaid is also quite good in Fool For Love. He does not come into the film until there are only forty or so minutes left, which is unfortunate, because he is the only character I could stand. Perhaps the only reason I noticed Randy Quaid delivering a good performance may be because everything else is bad in comparison.

My biggest problem with the characters in Fool For Love were with May and Eddie (Kim Basinger and Sam Shepard). Over the course of the film, we get to know and understand all of the characters, and I really did not want to know any more about May and Eddie. I seriously could not stand them! The character to start off with are very cliche. Eddie is the cowboy drifter who has one woman... and only one. May is a woman trapped within a tragic dilemma! MY GOD! Could I care any less? The film opens at an interesting time in their relationship. However, their relationship seems as thought it was made solely for the sake of the film. I was long tired of watching how May would yell at Eddie and then he would walk away... and suddenly she'd fall in love with him again... and then she'd get angry and yell at him for awhile. We follow down this very aggravating cycle and I just would love for it to come to an end. I'm telling you, there's a scene when Eddie stomps out after May yells at him to leave. He then walks into his car, and for five minutes May circles his car, with a sad-puppy kind of face on. Eddie walks out of his car after five minutes of it, and he embraces her. She the swings her knee up and it collides with Eddie's genitalia. Ouch...! Then she walks off into the distance. After managing to get up he talks to Harry Dean Stanton... and then he goes back and bickers with May. Altman is not delicate with us, he make this plot points drag on and on... forever. Nothing really happens until the end of the film when Randy Quaid arrives (with the exception of a scene when a psycho lady drives up and shoots at them for a long time). And when we get to the point when something happens... oh boy... Fool For Love gets even worse.

Here we go, plot twists galore. Don't read on if you want to see Fool For Love. One of the plot twists tell us that May and Eddie... are really brother and sister! YEP. A whole lot of incest. However, it is told to us in that worst way imaginable.

EDDIE: I didn't find out she was my sister until it was too late.
MARTIN (Randy Quaid): Too late?
EDDIE: ...until we'd... fooled around...
MARTIN: (gasps as he almost chocks on his alcohol) NOOO!

There you go, totally realistic. There are a few more to follow, but I won't spoil any more. You can read on now, no more spoilers

Fool For Love is a very boring film, and a very stupid film. It seemed very unworthy of Altman at first, then I figured that he might be laughing at us. He was never one for terrible melodrama, this does not seem like something the great Robert Altman would release... was Robert Altman making a self-parody with Fool For Love? Did the actors now? Think about that if you watch the film, because I'd love to know what you think.

Fool For Love is a painful experience if I've ever been through one. Terrible acting and melodrama takes over this waste of camera film.

Fool For Love,
Directed by Robert Altman,
Starring: Sam Shepard, Kim Basinger, Randy Quaid
5/10 (D-)

1. The Player
2. Gosford Park
3. Fool For Love

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