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 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Thursday, April 17, 2014 - Edition No 893 

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LIMEY, THE

SYNOPSIS:
Tough English ex-con Wilson (Terence Stamp) travels to Los Angeles to investigate the death of his daughter Jenny (Melissa George). After visiting Jenny's friend Ed (Luis Guzman) and her co-worker Elaine (Lesley Anne Warren), Wilson learns of Jenny's affair with wealthy record producer Terry Valentine (Peter Fonda). Convinced her allegedly accidental death is directly linked to Valentine, Wilson seeks his revenge.

“A fascinating murder mystery with a bravado piece of cinematic cleavage, The Limey is a Steven Soderbergh workshop that’s great to watch for the inventiveness and focus he brings to an old genre through new artifice. The 60s - revisited with Peter Fonda’s characater as well as footage of a young Terence Stamp in Ken Loach’s Poor Cow (an inspirational idea creatively executed) - haunts the film. But the atmosphere is staccato Los Angeles today. At odds with the 60s references is the music, a wonderful tinkled piano (mostly) from Michael Williams that neither prompts our emotions nor inhibits them. Soderbergh and his talented editor manage to create a prism effect in the time shift structure that provides us with an intriguing insight into the Wilson character’s state of mind while at the same time maintaining dramatic tension. The unpredictablity of the treatment works well against the genre mood: it’s like spreading marmalade on a steak. Terrific Stamp, great Fonda, talented Soderbergh…a noir film with new shades.”
Andrew L. Urban

"'They call me the Seeker, I've been searching low and high; I won't get what I'm after, until the day I die.' With these enigmatic lyrics from The Who, we are drawn into the compelling world of Steven Soderbergh's The Limey, a fascinating insight into two cultures, two career criminals and two worlds while two diverse universes are inextricably linked. Soderbergh's master stroke is the astute casting of 60s icons Terence Stamp and Peter Fonda, whose roles eerily echo their body of work. Both Stamp and Fonda are superb and elevate this revenge thriller into a filmmaking feat. It's as though both actors have skimmed decades, springboarding from their pivotal 60s roles to not so different characters today. Stamp's Wilson echoes his Wilson in Ken Loach's Poor Cow, and watching a young, handsome Stamp in that original footage is mind blowing in this context. Fonda's slippery decadence of lifestyle mirrors that Easy Rider role for which he is always remembered; it's a trip worth taking. Add to this potent mix, the flair and skill of Soderbergh, whose judgement of edgy direction and editing is beyond question, and you have a treat in store. Much of the intrigue comes from the stop start nature the music triggers and sense of waiting while discovering whether the action is real or imagined. Guns, drugs, murder, mystery and an unexpected sense of humour is the offering. And if you're wondering what does the title mean, The Limey is slang for a Brit, a term once used by British sailors who used to drink lime-juice to combat scurvy. Of course here there's no scurvy, but the affliction is an insatiable compulsion for revenge by an English ex-con at large in LA. The Limey is a deft delight."
Louise Keller

"Made before Erin Brokovich and Traffic, The Limey has been rescued from straight to video fate thanks to director Steven Soderbergh's strong showing at this year's Academy Awards. Without the attention generated by his dual nominations, this tough crime drama tale would probably have joined Kafka (1992), Schizopolis and Gray's Anatomy (both 1997) in the ranks of unseen Soderbergh films. That would have been a shame because The Limey has dialogue, pacing and performances to make it much more than your average revenge film. Like Lee Marvin in Point Blank (1967) Wilson is a man of iron will who simply can't be stopped by beatings inflicted by Valentine's heavies or the contract killers (including former Warhol superstar Joe Dallesandro) who follow once his quarry realises just who he's up against. Lem Dobbs' screenplay bristles with pungent dialogue as Wilson despatches all comers and sets up precisely the showdown with Valentine he wants. After infiltrating Valentine's swanky house in the hills and tossing a bodyguard off a bridge he has the opportunity to nail his target but decides to wait because "he's got to know why". Wilson's psychological profile is as fascinating as his ability to dish out and absorb sudden bouts of extreme violence. Flashbacks lifted from Ken Loach's 1967 drama Poor Cow - starring Stamp at the height of his beauty - are superbly integrated to reveal Wilson's troubled past. More than that, these moments also comment on Stamp himself - an icon of 60s cinema whose career went awry before returning with redeeming performances just like this. Stamp isn't the only one whose past is on screen. Peter Fonda gives a wonderful performance as a character Captain America from Easy Rider might have become had he survived that redneck's bullet. One of the moments to treasure in The Limey is Valentine's summation/deconstruction of what the 60s actually were. Coming from Fonda, whose career peaked in 1969 and languished until Ulee's Gold in 1997, it's more than simply an aside on a moment in time. The Limey is a straightforward tale enriched by inspired casting and excellent performances from all of its leading players including Luis Guzman, Lesley Anne Warren and Barry Newman as Valentine's sleazy lawyer. Soderbergh, who further enhances proceedings by dissociating sound from image and breaking with traditional linear construction, is as ruthless as his protagonist - bringing this in at 90 very efficient minutes. By the time Wilson is finished we know he's a pro - blow by blow. "
Richard Kuipers



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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 3
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

See our interview with
TERENCE STAMP

LIMEY, THE (MA)
(US)

CAST: Terence Stamp, Peter Fonda, Billy Budd, Lesley Ann Warren, Barry Newman, Melissa George

DIRECTOR: Steven Soderbergh

PRODUCER: John Hardy

SCRIPT: Lem Dobbs

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Ed Lachman

EDITOR: Sarah Flack

MUSIC: Cliff Martinez

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Gary Frutkoff

RUNNING TIME: 90 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Fox

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: Sydney May 10, 2001

VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Fox Home Entertainment

VIDEO RELEASE: October 17, 2001







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