(Dir. Paul Schrader) (1998)
Wade Whitehouse, the local sheriff, gets increasingly out of his depth, paranoid and lethal. On a downward spiral, in full view of the whole town, he realizes that when one is “nothing any more”, there’s not much to lose. We all beware the pointless violent denouement in American films (e.g. the otherwise morbidly compelling Taxi Driver), but this bleak masterpiece contains nothing gratuitous (including its finale) and it features superb performances, particularly from Nick Nolte, Sissy Spacek, and a devastating turn by James Coburn as Wade’s monstrous Dad.
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