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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 28.57%
Average: 2.38%
Pretty Bad: 14.29%
Total Crap: 7.14%

4 reviews, 18 user ratings

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Limbo (1999)
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by Chris Parry

"Will annoy you, but there's method behind the madness."
5 stars

When we watch a film, we analyse it. We figure out the "point" and we work out what is the "dilemma" and we try to follow things from there. Limbo busts those conventions to bits. You might think you know the dilemma. You might think you know the point. But until the final fade-to-black hits, indeed, until you've thought about that fade-to-black for a couple of minutes, you just won't understand.

This is a case of a class filmmaker bringing about a film that follows no set rules. The result? A movie that will leave many people completely annoyed initially, but on reflection they'll understand why they had to be annoyed. Okay, this all sounds very enigmatic, I'm sure. But to explain more clearly would be to spoil what is perhaps the strangest and sneakiest ending of any film I've seen.

David Strathairn is an Alaskan fisherman, or at least he was until a fatal accident. Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio is a lounge singer with a kid. The two meet. The two try to fall in love. They board a boat. Someone dies. But in a weird way, none of this is at all important to the "point".

In the background are a strange collection of local no-hopers, a businessman who has moved into the area to create a nature theme park, a lesbian couple from Seattle who "don't want to give people the impression they can walk all over us" and a story-telling bartender. But in a weird way, none of these are at all important to the "point".

I won't reveal the "point", because working out what that point is is this movie's reason for being. It's a film that takes you on a mystery tour, and until you're there for a while, you don't know where there is.

To explain it to you would be to give away what is a worthy, if slow, movie experience. But suffice it to say, if you're one of those folks who believes a movie should make you think, should make you wonder, and shouldn't dot all the i's and cross the t's, you might just find that Limbo gives you a buzz.

The performances are fantastic, especially from the usually cardboard cut-out Strathairn and a Judy Collins-like Mastrantonio, the cinematography is phenomonal, the mood is a little up'n'down. But the ending, let down as it is initially, is something that will force you to think. It's a worthy trip to get where you gotta go.

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originally posted: 06/12/99 03:55:52
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User Comments

1/16/03 Phil M. Aficionado The ending tests whether you are an optimist or pessimist. Choppy but well done flick 4 stars
12/07/01 A.E. Manning Great work as always. Those who didn't like the ending obviously don't get it. 5 stars
7/20/01 Reini Urban First I thought Sayles wants to show off Hollywood, now I think he is right. For both camps 5 stars
3/16/00 Jessica Superb cast, great story. Not recommended for people who hate abrupt movie endings. 4 stars
2/06/00 sue great movie, very different, will definately not appeal to everyone 4 stars
1/09/00 John Seligman The whole movie is a cliche that cops out by not having the guts to show us an ending 1 stars
1/03/00 SJKelley Sayles = overrated. Limbo deserves its obscurity. First-draft dialogue and plot. 1 stars
10/20/99 corey singer the best independant director working today. someone who assumes the audience is not dumb. 5 stars
9/19/99 Robert Lederman Ending (or lack there of) spoiled whole thing 3 stars
9/11/99 Pierce Lanson How many film endings elicit a groan from the audience? GREAT movie!! 5 stars
9/03/99 Dogma Dave Sayles never misses the mark. 4 stars
7/25/99 Heather Another great movie from Sayles, but will somebody tell me what happened to them? 5 stars
7/04/99 boomer For everyone who hated the ending--Duh, it's called Limbo for a reason! 4 stars
6/24/99 Mr Ed I haven't stopped thinking about this movie since I saw it 4 days ago. The unconventional f 5 stars
6/19/99 XenoWolf John Sayles should lick my hairy nuts and stop wasting film THIS MOVIE FUCKING SUCKS 1 stars
6/15/99 David A really good film about 3 interesting people facing incredible circumstances. Sayles rocks 5 stars
6/08/99 bart allan "What an ending!" or "What, an ending?" 4 stars
6/03/99 Mr IMDB A very thoughtful and thought-provoking film, the type of which is not often seen. 5 stars
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  04-Jun-1999 (R)



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