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LIMBO

SYNOPSIS:
A small Alaskan town, once rich on gold mining, now surviving on fishing, is the sort of place people run from and run to, depending on their circumstances. On the edge of Alaska’s great stretches of nature, it is where Joe Gastineau (David Strathairn), a fisherman traumatised by an accident at sea years before, now lives quietly. Alone.   Into Joe’s land-locked life comes singer Donna de Angelo (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio) and her disaffected daughter Noelle (Vanessa Martinez). When Joe’s fast-talking half-brother Bobby (Casey Siemaszko) returns to town and asks Joe for a favour, the lives of the three characters are forever altered.

"As Sayles readily admits, he is taking a risk with Limbo, and asking the audience to take a gamble, too, by going along with a film that defies Hollywood gravity – by not falling in a straight line. It begins as a study of a place and its characters, a unique place on the edge of Alaska’s wilderness, a place which used to thrive on gold, now survives as a fishing village, where outcasts and loners can either hide from life or reinvent themselves. This is Sayles’ first theme, and he delivers a haunting eulogy to the place as well as introducing us to some vaguely interesting characters, Joe being one. Half way through, the film turns a corner and takes on a new energy as it takes its characters on a dangerous journey into the wild. That’s Sayles second theme, and he marries the two with a storyteller’s ease. It’s what he doesn’t do at the end that will test the cinematic mettle of audiences – because up to that last moment, it’s a terrific crowd pleaser. For my money, the ending makes it unique. Check it out."
Andrew L. Urban

"Absorbing and engaging, Limbo takes us on a physical and emotional adventure to remote Alaska, which borders on the edge of civilisation in more ways than one. Sayles has created a true adventure which begins by solidly establishing the lives, whereabouts and references of the key characters. Sayles' writing, directing and editing styles are complex and complementary. There's an edginess throughout, portraying both the brittle frailties of human emotions and the harshness of the outdoor elements. The first half of the film introduces us to the characters and shows us what makes them tick. We learn about their demons, their shortcomings and attributes. The characters are strong individuals who have for one reason or another landed themselves in this outpost where civilisation intersects with the wilderness. The plot turns unexpectedly at a right angle, leading us into different territory. The ending may be controversial, but once digested, reinforces the very essence of the tale. Performances are tops – Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio delivers perhaps her best performance yet, as the complex singer whose reality is as harsh as her surroundings. Mastrantonio's resonant, clear singing voice belies the internal strength her character proffers. David Strathairn complements her, with an understated internal performance, while Vanessa Martinez shows great maturity as the compelling teenager. Rich in emotional complexity, Limbo takes us on a riveting ride into the unexpected; its intrigue will haunt, confound and push the boundaries of your expectations."
Louise Keller

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 2
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

TRAILER

Read the DVD REVIEW

See Andrew L. Urban's interview with

JOHN SAYLES

LIMBO (M)
(US)

CAST: Mary Elizabeth Matrantonio, David Strathairn, Vanessa Martinez, Kris Kristofferson, Casey Siemaszko

DIRECTOR: John Sayles

PRODUCER: Maggie Renzie

SCRIPT: John Sayles

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Haskell Wexler

EDITOR: John Sayles

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Gemma Jackson

RUNNING TIME: 127 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Columbia TriStar

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: September 9, 1999

In Competition, Cannes Film Festival, 1999

Opening Film, Sydney Film Festival, 1999

VIDEO RELEASE: March 15, 2000

VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Col TriStar







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