Bright Angel (1991)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Road Movie, Crime Drama, Americana  |   Release Date - Jun 14, 1991 (USA)  |   Run Time - 95 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - R
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With an outstanding pedigree -- acclaimed fiction writer Richard Ford adapts two of his stories for an outstanding cast of solid performers -- Bright Angel turns out to be a mild disappointment. Like Thomas McGuane and Jim Harrison, Ford loves to people the broad expanses of the West with damaged relationships and reckless behavior. Ford's style is to have his characters speak in semi-articulate aphorisms ("Being with is like being alone," says one man to a woman). In McGuane's best screen work, the wry comedy Rancho Deluxe, this kind of talk is endearingly wacky, but here, Ford can't make it work to illustrate his themes of dislocation and illusion. Ford's characters seem to be talking at rather than with each other, and to little effect. Of the performers, Dermot Mulroney, as the 18-year-old George, comes off best, but unfortunately, Lili Taylor, usually as reliable as the sunrise, affects a breathy delivery and her wayward Lucy remains opaque throughout the story. When she says to George, "Tell me something I might not know," and he replies, "I wish I could do that," you can feel the film slipping away. Shooting mostly around Billings, MT, cinematographer Elliot Davis captures the beauty of rolling fields and the sheltering sky, as well as the brutish imposition of oil wells and refineries on the landscape.