Beautiful Audrey is expected to remain with her high-school quarterback boyfriend and become a successful fashion model, but she instead becomes interested in a man of mystery—a man with at least one manslaughter in his past.
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Hartley deftly captures that hopelessness some of us felt during the 80's when Reagan was gambling with our lives. The yuppies were resplendent and clueless and damned to a life of rampant materialism. There was a lot more flexibility in terms of the movies that were being produced and Hartley pioneered a style that was literate and full of frustration.
An endlessly curious blend of Ashby & Bresson. Every Hartley scene feels rigorously conceptualized, though the result suggests a spontaneity & playfulness as nuanced as Hawks. Attempting to summarize the all-embracing concept of a Hartley moment inevitably ends in frustration. Here's a gorgeous illustration of cinematic atonality, of structural & performative plasticity. I'm bewildered by its sincerity, its irony.
Just a notch below the virtuoso "Amateur", but still brilliant, funny, and not a little melancholic. It may sound like damnation with faint praise, but when it is as good as this, the epithet "bittersweet" is elevated to a rare and exhalted level of poise and beauty.
I was rolling my eyes for the first few minutes, but by the time Hal Hartley's debut finished I was bawling. There is something unbelievably (ha) lovely, earnest, and smart about this late 80s indie. Life is worth living and people are worth loving even as we face nuclear annihilation and the worst of capitalism!