(Review originally written at 24 May 2006)

It's 1951 and there isn't a lot to do in the small Texan town Anarene. Basically in the whole town, there only is a cinema and a run-down pool hall for entertainment. So basically all the characters have in the movie is each other. Which makes it all the more difficult for the outcasts and those who don't like each other in the very small town. Especially the youth is the victim of this boring place. They are torn between several issues, which all have to do with the transition between puberty and adulthood and they come to the point at which they have to make some life-changing decisions.

"The Last Picture Show" is a real character movie that is driven by its actors and subtle directing from Peter Bogdanovich. There isn't a real plot in terms of having a beginning, middle and ending. It more is a character observation of several different persons who are all forced to make several decisions and all have in common that they all live in the same small Texan town, in which they can basically only fall back on the run-down pool hall and cinema. By the time the pool hall is closed and at the cinema the last picture is shown (hench the title), all the characters have to make the choices what to do with the rest of their lives.

The movie is shot entirely in black & white and made in the same style as movies from the 40's/early '50's. It's quite risqué to make a movie in a totally different style and 'old' style of movie-making but in this particular case it suits the story and movie well. It perfectly captures the mood of the depressing, boring '50's. There are some awkward unusual moments in the movie because of this style (especially in its editing) but I just took those moments for granted, since the style suited the story and the movie so well. Also the cinematography from Robert Surtees, who perhaps in my opinion was the best cinematographer of the '40's/50's and early '60's, is quite perfect.

The movie is however a bit too slow at times, even for my taste. Perhaps not really slow in terms of pace but more slow in terms of story-flow and consistency. Not everything that happens in the movie seems to serve a purpose for the movie but then again, life is filled with moments that don't seem to serve a purpose. So you can say that the movie is realistic, just not always interesting.

This movie really launched the career of several actors, such as the still very young Jeff Bridges and Randy Quaid. Also Ellen Burstyn is present as well as many other well known and respected actors of that time period.

It's a cliché but they don't make them like this anymore. This movie is a monumental one that is realistic and powerful but unfortunately not always totally interesting to follow, which regretfully prevents me from rating this movie any higher, even though this multiple Oscar nominated movie certainly deserves to be seen.


About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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