Starring: Timothy Bottoms, Jeff Bridges, Ellen Burstyn, Cybill Shepherd
Director: Peter Bogdanovich
Based on the semi-biographical coming of age novel by Larry McMurtry, author of Lonesome Dove and Terms of Endearment, and filmed in black and white, this film is the story of Sonny (Bottoms) and Duane (Bridges). The two teenage boys have grown up in the dying town of Anarine, Texas, and are about to graduate from high school. There really isn’t much to keep them in the town, no work, stores and cinema are closing. Duane is dating Jacey (Shepherd), the most beautiful girl in town and has her eyes on bigger dreams too. Perhaps they’ll all go their separate ways, perhaps they’ll be stuck in Anarene forever.
The title kind of refers to the closing of the picture show house in town, the last thing that is left for people to do there, but it also gently refers to the end of an era. Made in the early 70’s, a lot of critics note that the director looked to the older, formal style of film making, as opposed to the newer, fresh rule breaking that was tearing up the screens in the 70’s. But while the film’s style is old school and black and white, the film itself, it’s characters and their actions and feelings, feel very modern.
Whilst the film has two great leads and Shepherd really shines as the frustrated and ambitious Jacey, I didn’t really like anyone in this film and it felt a little long to me. I’m not sure why it didn’t resonate with me, because it is such a classic film and one frequently sited by directors and critics as belonging on the best films of all time lists. It’s one of those films where I can appreciate the artistry and talent involved, the creative decisions made, but also just not love it. But it is a classic film and one well worth seeing, personal feelings aside.
See It If: you ever grew up in a small place that you desperately wanted to escape… the dying town of Anarene and the two boys who come of age there is a tale well told.