16 March 2015



USA, 1993
Director: Dominic Sena


With a cast like that - Brad Pitt, David Duchovny, Juliette Lewis - you wouldn't think that this movie bombed at the box office... but it did, and quite massive too: it only made about $2 million on a $9 million budget, and now more than 20 years later, it's still an incredibly underrated and overlooked movie that deserves
so much more attention.

The debut feature of Dominic Sena ("Swordfish", "Whiteout") is a grim and deeply fascinating road movie/thriller, a bit in the vein of slightly similar-looking movies like "Natural Born Killers" or "Thelma & Louise", following a journalist and his girlfriend who travel across America to visit and document famous serial-killer sites, unaware that one of their two white trash companions is a serial killer himself...

"Kalifornia" is a slow movie that demands attention and patience. There's lots of talking and driving around with not much action going on, but if you let yourself get fully into it, you'll get rewarded with a stunning high-class thriller that will thrill you and shock you and ultimately tear you apart with its intensity. The first half constantly switches between entertaining, puzzling and gripping, while the second half is just brutal and gets and darker and more unsettling with
every single minute.

Sena perfectly turned Tim Metcalfe's ("Fright Night 2", "The Haunting in Connecticut") excellent screenplay into a pretty unique and surprisingly clever powerhouse of a movie by keeping the pace calm and steady, the tension palpable and running high, whilst mesmerising the audience with beautiful images of empty deserts and abandoned buildings.

The characters are all very believable and the chemistry between the 4 main actors is simply outstanding. Brad Pitt delivers one of the most impressive performances in his entire career as seeminlgy stupid hick who's actually more intelligent that you might think and who's also extraordinarily dangerous because he gives a flying fuck about any kind of rules and only does whatever he wants, be it theft, rape or murder. Juliette Lewis is equally impressive as the killer's girlfriend, a naive but somehow adorable and pitiful 'white trash beautiful'. Duchovny gives a subtle and slightly inscrutable semi-yuppie, but he gets completely outclassed by the unbelievably hawt, unbelievably talented, unbelievably underrated Michelle Forbes whose performance as cynical photographer, who gradually gets more and more frightened and uneasy, is simply flawless. Bravo!

"Kalifornia" is undoubetly one of the best and most interesting serial-killer films of the 90s. I urge everyone who still hasn't seen it to check it out ASAP. If you don't trust/believe me... well, Roger Ebert gave it 4/4 and said about Sena's direction "(...) he shows the kind of mastery of material here that I've seen in other early films such as Martin Scorsese's 'Mean Streets', Terence Malick's 'Badlands' (or) John McNaughton's 'Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer'." 
Eat that!

1 comment:

  1. Wow, I'd forgotten about this, it's a long time since I saw it. I seem to remember a brooding sinister story and Brad Pitt being at the centre of that unease. Great review and makes me want to seek it out again; unfortunately I think we only have it on video, and nothing to play it on.

    Still whenever I eat Chilli I think of Brad Pitt saying "make it a hot one" in a white trash drawl.


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