This film screened 22nd February 2010.
EXCLUSIVELY AT IFI
If ever a movie deserved the moniker ‘neglected classic’, it’s this one. Pitched somewhere between Chinatown and Hamlet no, really! this adaptation of Newton Thornburg’s classic counter-culture novel Cutter and Bone offers a mystery story probing the dark heart of broken, post-Vietnam America. Jeff Bridges capped an extraordinary first decade on screen with his disenchanted Santa Barbara gigolo who’s stopped caring about anything, but somehow stands by his embittered, self-destructive war veteran pal (John Heard, a revelation) as the latter cooks up a half-crazed scheme to blackmail a local business magnate who may be guilty of murder. Czech emigre director Ivan Passer’s film is about personal loyalty and moral cowardice, about self-respect in a them-and-us society, put across with a level of ambiguity and maturity which treats the audience with the utmost intelligence. American cinema’s 1970s golden years essentially ended here, in 1981, with one last moment of ragged glory. Cancel all engagements: this is where you need to be. (Notes by Trevor Johnston).