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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 as shards of ice, 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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