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One False Move Movie Review

bob billy ray pluto

One False Move represents a promising directing debut for Carl Franklin and a chance to see some fine actors at work, notably Cynda Williams and Bill Paxton. The film begins with an extended and quite graphic bloodletting sequence, but nothing else in the narrative, not even the climax is anywhere that explicit. Paxton plays Sheriff Dale “Hurricane” Dixon, seemingly an eager beaver small-town hick who tags along after a couple of big city cops until he realizes that the execution-style drug murders they are investigating hit very close to home. Five years earlier, he and Lila Walker (Williams), a young black teenage shoplifter, had a baby son before she left town. Dixon later married and started a family of his own, who know nothing about his relationship with Lila or his little boy. Lila changes her name to Fantasia and winds up on drugs in Los Angeles with two bad dudes named Ray and Pluto. Unfortunately, Ray is played by screenwriter Billy Bob Thornton, who writes much better than he acts, and Pluto, although effectively played by Michael Beach, is only identified by his 150 I.Q. and his fondness for knives. (If he'd switched roles with Beach, would Billy Bob have written a better part for Pluto? Maybe, but nothing would have helped his acting!) This casting decision hurts because Fantasia is supposed to be dominated by the homicidal Ray and she looks as if she could eat him for breakfast. Cynda Williams does a beautiful job with the material she is given, although she is too glowingly healthy and alert to make a completely convincing strung-out junkie. One False Move suffers from a storyline that zaps all over the place with secondary characters and then drags for long stretches, especially when Billy Bob as Ray has to spend much time onscreen. It works best when it focuses on the relationship between Lila and the Sheriff, especially as they wait out a long night attempting to trap Ray and Pluto. Since Billy Bob Thorton's writing and acting skills improved enormously by the time he directed 1996's Sling Blade, One False Move is well worth a look on video for an early portrait of the artist as a young man.

1991 (R) 105m/C Bill Paxton, Cynda Williams, Michael Beach, Jim Metzler, Earl Billings, Billy Bob Thornton, Natalie Canderday, Robert Ginnaven, Robert Anthony Bell, Kevin Hunter; D: Carl Franklin; W: Billy Bob Thornton, Tom Epperson; C: James L. Carter. Independent Spirit Awards ‘93: Best Director (Franklin); MTV Movie Awards ‘93: Best New Filmmaker Award (Franklin). VHS, LV, Closed Caption, DVD

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