Fool for Love (1985)

Sam Shepard, Kim Basinger, Harry Dean Stanton, Randy Quaid,
Fool for Love is a movie starring Sam Shepard, Kim Basinger, and Harry Dean Stanton. May is waiting for her boyfriend in a run-down American motel, when an old flame turns up and threatens to undermine her efforts and drag her back...
  • 6.1 /10.0 IMDB Rating:
  • DatePublished:
  • 2018-09-07 Added:
  • Writer:
  • Robert Altman, Director:
  • Yoram Globus, Menahem Golan, Producer:

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7 / 10

May vs. Eddie

Adapted from Sam Shepard's play, this movie retains many play-like elements such as a relatively fixed setting (a roadside 50's motel in the Southwest) and extensive, intriguing dialogues. A woman "May" is hounded by a man "Eddie" (played by Sam Shepard). She tries to hide from him in the out-of-the-way motel, but he finds her. The film explores the history of their relationship, mainly from their childhoods, that has led them to this point. It's very easy to feel sympathy for the characters and to understand that their dysfunctional present relationship is a result of past events out of their control. We mainly watch them fight, make up, fight, make up and so on. One image that stands out in my mind, is of Eddie hauling May over his shoulder kicking and screaming, taking her somewhere she doesn't want to go.

The soundtrack is also perfect soulful country with vocals by a lesser known artist "Sandy Rogers". She has this country doll voice that almost yodels at some points in the album! This is the kind of movie that will stay lodged in some part of your brain/soul. In other words, go see it!

7 / 10

Interesting, worthwhile, if not totally successful adaptation of the play.

Interesting, laid back version of the Shepherd play. On stage, with Ed Harris in the lead, it was all frenetic energy and danger. Here the piece is more moody and dreamlike. At times that works tremendously well, and it is visually beautiful. The play has been opened up in a way that feels natural and not forced. And the use of narration is very interesting and productively unsettling, since the memories we see do not quite match the words we hear.

On the other hand, the slower pace makes the writing feel more melodramatic and almost old- fashioned in its twists. And Shepherd is nowhere near as interesting as Harris was on stage. We never feel that he is really dangerous. He comes off more as a love-struck kid than obsessed man. And it ends with a whimper, not a kick. Still, there are plenty of less interesting theater to film adaptations out there.

6 / 10

The Cannon Group steps outside their usual action genre

Robert Altman directed this adaptation of a play by Sam Shepard, who wrote the screenplay and stars as a drifter who drives his pickup truck, complete with horse and trailer, to a small hotel in New Mexico. It seems he has a tempestuous romantic history with the hotel's proprietor (Kim Basinger), and the audience fills in the blanks as the film progresses, taking a distinctly sharp turn in the last third. Also with Randy Quaid and Harry Dean Stanton. The first half of the film nearly lost me for good, with not a lot happening and the performances pitched to the back row. But things get better during the home stretch, even if bits do strain credulity. From the Cannon Group, stepping outside of their usual budget action flicks.

10 / 10

An outstanding movie from an outstanding play

Fool for Love is one of the best films, and plays, I've seen in my 30+ years of adulthood--and I hate *everything* (i.e., I have very high standards). I also hate 90% of what Robert Altman has directed; Nashville goes right in the garbage can as far as I'm concerned.

No spoiler here--just go to the play, if you can, or watch the film. It is intense, suspenseful, moving, funny (occasionally)...a must-see for art-film enthusiasts. Sam Shepard is a brilliant playwright and an excellent actor. The casting of Kim Basinger, Harry Dean Stanton, and Dennis Quaid for the movie was nothing short of genius.

4 / 10

A Somnolent Experiment from Robert Altman

"Fool for Love" is one of the several now forgotten films Robert Altman directed throughout the 1980s. This one, a screen adaptation of a Sam Shepard play that features Shepard in the lead role, just simply isn't very good. Altman made many not-very-good films over the course of his fascinating career, and many times the fault was his. But here I think the fault lies with Shepard for writing such a flimsy play. Altman's direction is assured, the performances are o.k. given what the actors have to work with, but this inconsequential screenplay goes nowhere, and takes its time getting there.

Shepard is Eddie, a stuntman who has a love/hate relationship with May (Kim Basinger). The two fight endlessly over the course of an evening spent in some dusty motel in the middle of nowhere, while a mysterious man (Harry Dean Stanton) who may be either a figurative or literal father to both Eddie and May quietly observes. Randy Quaid rounds out the four-person cast as a gentleman caller.

The only dramatic hook in the entire plot is the suggestion that Eddie's and May's relationship is incestuous. However, this hook feels more like a gimmick than anything. The screenplay doesn't explore their relationship in any detail, and it doesn't use their relationship to explore any more universal themes. Shepard and Basigner create eccentric, mannered characters who grow irritating within the first five minutes; Stanton and Quaid have little to do but provide reaction shots.

The last half hour or so of the film is especially bad, when Eddie's and May's back stories begin to play out in flashback over monotone, somnolent voice over.

Chalk this up to another of Altman's experiments gone awry.

Grade: C-