Kalifornia

This kinky game of murder and eroticism is preposterous but never boring. Director Dominic Sena switches from music videos (Sting, David Bowie) to films and shows a keen eye for images that fill a wide screen with beauty and terror. Then the inconsistencies in Tim Metcalfe's script break the spell.

But there is that cast — young, hot and acting for keeps. Juliette Lewis can test your endurance with her insistent drawl and then use it to pierce your heart; she's flat-out wonderful as Adele Corners, a waitress who takes an innocent delight in trying on high heels her ex-con boyfriend Early Grayce (Brad Pitt) has stolen for her. The shoes are still warm from the feet of Early's latest victim, but, shucks, Adele doesn't know he's a serial killer.

Brian Kessler, played by David Duchovny, doesn't know, either. But he's writing a book on serial killers, and his girlfriend, Carrie (the gorgeous Michelle Forbes), is taking the photos. Since the plan is to drive cross-country to California visiting murder sites, Brian advertises for a couple to share expenses on the trip.

Why do these two sophisticates pick trailer trash like Adele and Early as travel mates? Don't look for logic — it's the quartet of actors that keeps you riveted. Pitt is outstanding, all boyish charm and then a snort that exudes pure menace. He and Lewis, once lovers offscreen, play this flapdoodle with enough urgency to make the suspension of disbelief worthwhile.

From The Archives Issue 195: September 11, 1975