Déjà vu Review: Flesh and Bone (1993)

Flesh and Bone is a film that gets under my skin. A doom laden sojourn into southern gothic; it’s beautiful, moving and macabre, and it passed almost unseen on its theatrical release in 1993.
Dennis Quaid plays Arlis Sweeney, a vending machine stocker who travels the desolate plains of West Texas haunted by a childhood memory. One bad night, when his father Roy’s (James Caan) abortive burglary culminated in the murder of a family, leaving a crying infant as the only survivor.
Arlis SweeneyThe torment Arlis has born for thirty years is etched in his face, as he stoically avoids any emotional attachments; visiting the same towns, eating the same food, sleeping in the same beds and then starting all over again.
Flesh and Bone (1993)His obsessive routine is disrupted however, when he crosses paths with Kay Davies (Meg Ryan), a wayward young woman who’s running from a broken marriage. Kay joins him on the road and they soon become intimate. But just as they’re on the cusp of a future together, the sudden reappearance of a figure from his past, and a chance discovery, lead Arlis to a shattering realisation, and a confrontation, 30 years in the making.
Kay Motel RoomFlesh and Bone is a poetic vision of loneliness and isolation, its stillness evoking the Coen Brother’s Blood Simple. The West Texas landscape is arid and scorched, but the visuals are as luminous, from the grocery stores and bus stations, right down to the melted ice around beer bottles in a wash basin at dawn.meg-and-dennisQuaid and Ryan have a delightfully casual interplay, but they are also able to express so much with just facial expressions. Meg in particular nails the insecurity and hesitancy under Kay’s brash, invulnerable front. Ryan’s work is both sultry and superb, culminating in the scene where she walks through the miles of empty fields surrounding her abandoned childhood home.Kay (Meg Ryan)It’s a truly stunning sequence, enhanced by Thomas Newman’s music, the emptiness of the landscape echoing the emptiness inside her character. But then all the characters in Flesh and Bone are empty; they’re all searching for something without knowing, or understanding what. They move simply because they find it impossible to stay still; like the blood coursing through their veins.



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13 responses to “Déjà vu Review: Flesh and Bone (1993)

  1. RB

    I really think Flesh and Bone is one of those movies you simply have to appreciate as art. Sometimes art makes you look past an imperfect whole, to examine all the aspects of its components that there are to enjoy. I only discovered this movie from being a follower of this blog, and now own the DVD. There are sections of it I have to skip over, certainly the beginning, but then I get lost in the artistry. Long sections of Flesh and Bone are worth repeated viewings and are profoundly affecting. The beautifully underplayed scene when Kay and Arliss are driving along in his pickup is one of my favorite movie moments.
    I spent a couple of years in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area. I’d never go back there to live, but it was a couple of years of magic, and of exhilarating ups and downs. I wouldn’t trade the experience. And I am fairly well enthralled by how Meg Ryan and Dennis Quaid captured a lot of that feeling.

  2. Sounds really interesting. I haven’t seen this, but would love to. Even if the movie isn’t that great, the movie sounds worth watching for acting, cinematography and music, as you’ve mentioned.

  3. Jay

    Great review! You really hooked me. I hope to come across it this weekend.

  4. You have that way of writing, Paul, that simply get’s people intrigued. I’ve seen Flesh and Bone only once, and remember there was a dark family story revolving around it. Meg Ryan and Dennis Quaid are so good together on the big screen. What a shame they didn’t get along in real life. Great review as always!

  5. I’ve never seen this one. Hard to believe, because I thought I’d seen all her movies. But that was the year I started residency, so I was probably too busy!

    Thanks for visiting my site. Much appreciated.

    • I watched often since when this movie released on Brazil´s Video rentals back to january 1994…and It´s one of a few movies that I never tire to see Meg Ryan´s acting in this one, qiute instead,,, This is a movie that gives enjoy watching this Meg Ryan´s performance… so yummy I feel so good when see Meg in this movie so special so different, so congenial, so perfect-balanced and a kind “Safety-Meg Ryan” when she wants
      I can feel about Meg´s good things and She can conforts me

  6. How the heck did I miss this one, well I’ll be on the hunt now, sounds like a kool movie!!

  7. Here I am back tracking Paul, to see if I missed anything, and once again, I’m pretty intrigued by thus particular movie….. Yep still on the hunt :)!!!

  8. I’ve never seen this one. Quaid and Ryan together again in a movie I’ve never heard of? Incredible. Seems I’m not the only one though- did this disappear or something?

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