Limbo

Bomb Rating: 

There are many aspects of this film which merit a groan, a snort, or even hurling a drink at the screen

If you ever want to know why Hollywood makes so many bad movies, all you need to do is sit through this John Sayles film, then evaluate the audience's reaction to the ending. Mind you, Sayles is an independent filmmaker, so one wouldn't expect to see a typical Hollywood ending per se. In addition, Sayles' style wouldn't be expected to appeal to an audience of say, fourteen-year-old girls. However, the groaning I happened to hear at the end came from -- get this -- members of a film society.

There are many aspects of this film which merit a groan, a snort, or even hurling a drink at the screen, but the end isn't one of them. Just in case any more film society members are planning on seeing this movie, let me clarify one little thing: The title of the film is "Limbo." It isn't "Film That Ends With Complete Resolution." The definition of "limbo" is "uneasiness and apprehension," so it should be no surprise to anyone capable of tying his own shoes that it ends as it does.

In fact, it's actually somewhat predictable. The main characters are all lost souls who end up stranded. Joe Gastineau (David Strathairn) has frittered away his life in Alaska after accidentally killing two people in a boating accident. When he meets Donna De Angelo (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio) things start to look up, until they go on a boating trip with Donna's sullen, in-need-of-a-good-slappin' daughter, Noelle (Vanessa Martinez), and Joe's half-brother, Bobby (Casey Siemaszko), and are forced to abandon ship. You'd think Joe would have learned his lesson the first time.

This film resolves itself and betrays its intentions, but film-society members more focused on nose-mining than on the screen may well wander out of the theater thinking it did exactly the opposite. What kind of message does this send to filmmakers? "Let's make movies in which everything is spelled out and nobody will have any questions about anything." Result: People are idiots, and films are made for the masses. What a surprise, then, that most of them suck.

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