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The Loveless

The Loveless -

I went in to this movie thinking it would be a slice of life in southern small-town America and what happens when a biker gang visits. The description fits, but I also didn't think it would be such a masterclass of suspense. From observing the grip that the constantly sweaty and flustered gas man Tarver has on the place to the bikers' knife-throwing game to of course the centerpiece drama of Vance's (Willem Dafoe) dalliance with local heartbreaker Telena (Marin Kanter), you just know the gang's little stop won't end well. The artful editing has a lot to do with this for how pretty much every cut builds tension. There's also the several moments where what we see says more than words ever could, whether it's Davis stabbing the diner seat to the footage of real or staged violence on the television. What anchors everything, though, is Dafoe's performance, whose facial expressions pretty much tell the entire story. Story, however, does not seem to be what directors Kathryn Bigelow (in her debut) and Monty Montgomery are wholly interested in. This is hardly a fault, though, because in addition to all the suspense, it works very well as a mood piece, namely of the ennui, idleness and the resentment of neglected youth found in small town America, which they apparently have much more of than charm. All in all, it's an impressive debut for Bigelow to a career that has had very few missteps.