Review by: Graeme Kay | Rating:
JOSEPH Fiennes stars in the title role of this so-so drama set
in a small mid-western American town.
Leo has been released on parole after serving 15 years in prison
He is a strange, quiet chap who takes refuge from the world in
the novel he is writing. But for his day job, he must work at
the diner he has been assigned to by his parole officer.
At the diner, Leo encounters a range of characters, ranging from
the downtrodden waitress - who is abused by the establishment's
bullying major shareholder, Dennis Hopper doing his usual psychopath
role (doesn't he ever tire of this?) - to the owner, Horace (Sam
Shepherd), who uses religion to hide him from life.
Leo's temperament is such that mostly he stands back from the
evil doing he sees before him, but there comes a point where a
man has to take a stand.
While the story of Leo's life at the eaterie unfolds, elsewhere
in time and space another drama is being played out - involving
an alcoholic, guilt-ridden mother, Elisabeth Shue, who blames
herself for the death of her husband and daughter, and takes out
her suffering on the bookish son who was born on the day of the
latter two's deaths.
It quickly becomes clear that Leo has some mysterious connection
with the woman and her son. But are they just characters in his
book or something more?
All is eventually revealed in this well-meaning, if uneven, psychological
The main problems being that the action is continually jumping
from present day to the past, making the plot rather hard to follow,
and that the storyline has too many holes in it to make the characters
While Shue gives a strong performance as the unloving dipsomaniac
it's not enough to carry the show.