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An intrigued couple tags along on a trip cross-country with a writer researching serial killers.
David Duchovny is a blocked author with a fascination for outlaw killers who hatches a plan to road trip through America's mass-murder landmarks to finish his book. He enlists his frustrated photographer girlfriend Michelle Forbes, who desperately wants to leave the East Coast for L.A., to illustrate the tome, and they advertise for riding partners. Luckily for them, they wind up with a veteran killer, the greasy trailer-park ex-con Brad Pitt, who decides to skip parole with his cowering child-woman girlfriend Juliette Lewis. Duchovny is enamored by gun-toting Pitt's recklessness and lawless disregard for, well, everything; he's simultaneously terrified and thrilled by Pitt's brutal beating of a barfly. Meanwhile, Pitt's leaving a trail of corpses in their wake.
Directed with a cool remove by Dominic Sena (Gone in 60 Seconds 2000), Kalifornia falls somewhere between Badlands and Natural Born Killers. Pitt brings a ferocious magnetism to his part, but it's still hard to buy genial Duchovny's odd attraction; Juliette Lewis conveys a terrifying sense of victimization with her poor dumb creature. Despite the film's best efforts, it never really plumbs the psyche of Pitt's simmering psycho--he's just plain bad, you know--but it does fashion an effective little thriller out of the tensions brewing in the restless quartet. --Sean Axmaker
- Making Of
- Contains both Unrated and R-rated versions of the film
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This is a review of the blu-ray and the transfer is crisp with great sound. Much better than the dvd version.
A case where the visceral scenes stand out even more coldly because of the hi-def somehow enhancing their effect.
Brad Pitt's character, Earlie Grayce, is a bouncing bucket of nitro: he can explode at any instant. He is so pointlessly cruel that one is more surprised by his non violent actions. There seems to be no systematic rationale for his behavior. But his portrayal of the this inchoate monster is outstanding in the details of the action.
The other characters seem to have even less structure, but are all convincingly played. Duchovny's character, Brian, is an emergent being with little inner structure, and woefully inadequate knowledge of the subject he is obligated to write a book about, serial killers.
Juliette Lewis does a very good job of portraying what is almost a "Rain-girl" version of the monster's innocent girl friend. However she manages to summon up enough integrity and ego for independent thought.
Michelle Forbes seems to be extending her Star Trek TNG character of Roe Larren to the big screen. She is the underachieving, but mightily striving photographer, whose ultimate function in the plot is not clear. Her early unease about Grayce does not help her to deal with him.
At the end of the movie, what tipped the scales for me up to 3 stars was that as pointless as the plot line seemed to be, and as random as the characters' interactions were, the relationships were not much more bizarre and inexplicable than those we hear about on the evening news. Frankly, they were more believable than some of what you see on Oprah, Dr. Phil, or Jerry Springer.
Watch the actors; they are at least excellent, and Brad Pitt is outstanding!