Betty has a crush on her tennis coach Mike. He keeps on promising to call, but never does – she doesn’t know that he’s a little dealer. After a failed deal in someone else’s district he has to disappear for three months. He contacts Betty again, but she waits in vain – he’s killed before they meet.
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The film eventually slides all the way downhill with its meaningless life-and-death histrionics at the climax, but the attractive visuals and Winger’s restrained performance provide compensation throughout.
2.5 A strange TV movie vibe pervades throughout & Debra Winger doesn’t get a whole lot to do beyond reacting to everyone else. Supposedly Bridges first structured the film backwards chronologically which might have helped. The romanticization of the relationship w/ Mike seems unlikely & frankly a bit silly, & the (studio added?) score doesn't help. Great to see Dan Shor pop up as a goofy performance artist.
3.5 stars. Near-Must-Watch for the second half alone (first 45 minutes are odd, as if James Bridges does not know what to shoot: could it be due to out-of-control editing / studio butchering ?).
The moment when Darrell Larson gets abducted (?) looks almost supernatural, Carpenter-way: the hitman is left unseen, not unlike the unnamed antagonists in Fog or Assault On Precinct 13.
Reportedly this was butchered by the studio. What survives is a moody character piece with a heavy dose of seedy El Lay atmosphere (greasy spoons, Mexican dives, vacant dirt lots, dirty windows, copious lines of coke), occasionally interrupted by slightly awkward crime movie stuff. Some surprisingly powerful moments, particularly Paul Winfield's big scene and the bit where Betty peeks in on the murder scene.