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Leo (15)



Review by: Graeme Kay | Rating: One

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 for murder.

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 drama.

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 entirely credible.

While Shue gives a strong performance as the unloving dipsomaniac it's not enough to carry the show.

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