DIRECTOR: TONY RICHARDSON
CINEMATOGRAPHY: STEVE YACCONELLI
MUSIC: JACK NITZSCHE
CAST: Jessica Lange (Carly), Tommy Lee Jones (Marshal), Powers Boothe (Johnson), Carrie Snodgress (Vera), Amy Locane, Chris O'Donnell (Glenn)
ONE WORD: The two leads are phenomenal.
It's a shame that some film stories just do not seem to stand out as well as they should. This is a film about corruption, of the kind that even the likes of Hollywood is famous for. But despite its outstanding acting by the two leads in this film, a great effort will still be left behind, for the less subtle, but establishment produced pictures. Blue Sky is a great film, despite its soft, and quiet appearances.
And a total blow out by two actors, that just rip the screen apart. And a sign that the late Tony Richardson, in his last effort, still knew how to get the best out of his actors, and knew how to define a role, in such a way that it made sense, and had a very nice continuity along the way. It's hard to imagine that someone like Jessica Lange in this film will more than likely get forgotten around Oscar time, but her performance, is really a treat, in a role that is not easy to do, and easier to overplay.
It is the story of an army engineer that ends up in the testing grounds in Nevada in the days following the war. And the government has to protect its secret investment in the cold war. To do so takes a few things that are never expected. Like during testing, someone accidentally crosses the unknown line, and becomes exposed to a very large amount of radiation, for which they will die very soon. And the other victims in this story are the wives of the men that are not allowed to know what is going on.
Tommy Lee Jones plays one such engineer and scientist. But he has a few morals even if his own superior lacks in this area. Marshal eventually crosses the line that is above and beyond the call of duty, and is disciplined for it. But things get back on course in time. The wife, who has been living a bit of a frustrated Marilyn dream, has been in the eyes of the superior officer, and he has designs on her. He finally succeeds. And proceeds to try and break the marriage of the scientist who is rebelling against the status quo, unbeknown to him that the main reason (nice sub-text) is that he is not quite happy at home, and neither is his wife, who is isolated even from a nice movie.
Eventually, Carly, whom we have thought of as a tease, and not a person with all her eggs in one basket, is able to get her own revenge. She finally figures out that the superior officer was out to get her and dispose of her husband, whom she loves despite her seeming sickness, which requires some medicine.
And, if the film is right, the world of television becomes aware of what happened in that area, but fortunately for the army, it didn't get much news coverage elsewhere. The testing continued, and still does. But it tells you that there are many miles of land in the Nevada desert that is not inhabitable for the next 100,000 years or so. Will our ancestors remember that? Does the army care? Do you care?
Jessica Lange is phenomenal in this film, in a role that spans the gamut of emotional arrays of explosion, to the loving woman that she can be. And at the same time, the tease that she can also be, a part of the image that she has grown up into and with. Which of course, states the wrong thing about her as we will see in the end.
Tommy Lee Jones, is very nice, in what is, for a change, a romantic setting for him, where playing a toughie, means having to figure out how to subdue his wife when she goes crazy, and the neighbors are watching.
The film has some excellent music, and appears to note the return of Carrie Snodgrass to the acting fold, as I do not recall her having done much of anything for quite sometime. Her husband, Jack Nitzsche did the music, which is excellent.
Worth while film that is very satisfying, in many ways. Two outstanding performances in this film, that deserve a bigger audience.
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