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The 100




Far North
(1988)
Reviewed by Ned Daigle
Rating: 8 Beans

o those who have read my review of "Silent Tongue" and are well aware of my attitude toward writer/director Sam Shepard, I will not go through that tirade again here. Let's just say that "Far North" is also a gut-wrenching exercise in pointlessness. It's not as bad as "Silent Tongue" but that's like saying the eruption of Mt. St. Helen's wasn't as bad as the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius.

Why Charles Durning, Jessica Lange, Tess Harper and Patricia Arquette just didn't say "Hell no" when they read the script is anybody's guess. But they must have seen something in it, I imagine, but I have no idea what that would have been.

"Far North" is essentially the story of a dysfunctional Minnesota family who must grapple with the wrenching, soul-searching decision of whether or not....to shoot a horse!

Yup, that's it.

The family's matriarch, Bertrum (Durning) is thrown from the horse and is hospitalized with grave injuries. Kate, his daughter, just in from New York (Lange), goes to visit dad. He tells her what he wants her to do is shoot the horse. He believes the horse did it on purpose, that it meant to kill him. Therefore, the horse must die!

Back home Kate's sister Rita (Harper) wants to horse to live. It doesn't deserve such a fate. And for 92min. of running time, all of the members discuss whether or not to shoot the horse. I'll tell you one thing, by about the half hour mark I was ready to gun down the damn animal myself just so all of the arguments would end.

There are a couple of sub-plots to be sure. Kate wrestles with the problem of her unexpected pregnancy. Rita is worried about her slutty daughter (Arquette, who's performance here consists of doing all of her lines in a series of screams and shrieks). Durning escapes from the hospital with the help of his alcoholic brother, because, basically the horse isn't dead yet so he feels that he has to do it himself.

"Far North" has endless scenes of Durning and his brother (Donald Moffatt) wandering around the woods trying to get back to the house. Endless arguments between the sisters about, you guessed it, that damn horse. At one point, all six major characters are wandering around the woods in the dark at the same time for no apparent reason. Shepard, obviously, has a thing for wandering characters yelling each other's names. (He did much the same with wandering characters in the desert with "Silent Tongue").

Well, you get the idea. I wouldn't dream of telling you whether or not the horse gets shot. You'll just have to suffer through "Far North" yourself. If I have to do it, you have to do it.






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