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Critic's Pick

'Lone Star'

January 11, 1998|Kenneth Turan

This distinctive and compelling film chooses to open like a traditional murder mystery, but little else about this film hews to a Hollywood path. With this 1996 release writer-director John Sayles established himself in the top tier of American filmmakers. While a recognizable United States is rarely present in most contemporary cinema, Sayles' work is different. The triumph of "Lone Star" is how well it integrates Sayles' social concerns with the heightened tension and narrative drive the thriller form provides. Though a murder investigation is "Lone Star's" initial hook, its people are its abiding concern. Besides solving a mystery, it's Sayles' intention to peel back the layers of Frontera society, to explore the complex interconnections between the three communities-Anglo American, Mexican American and African American-that warily coexist in Rio County, an area where violent methods of settling disputes are not unusual. Chris Cooper, Elizabeth Pena and Kris Kristofferson (pictured) star (TMC Monday at 11:10 p.m.).

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