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Hot Spot

1 rating: 3.0
A movie directed by Dennis Hopper

A saturnine vision of the universe and an interest in the female form bordering on adoration have been two constants of Dennis Hopper's directorial work. Both are on display in this neo-noir, starring Don Johnson as cagey drifter Harry Madox, who picks … see full wiki

Tags: Movies, Dramas
Director: Dennis Hopper
Release Date: 1990
MPAA Rating: R
1 review about Hot Spot

A Movie Well Worth The Effort Even If It Is At Times Plodding

  • Sep 21, 2006
Rating:
+3
Pros: Performances; directing; story-line.

Cons: Slow uneven pace.

The Bottom Line: The Hot Spot is a movie well worth watching even if it is at times plotting.

Plot Details: This opinion reveals major details about the movie''s plot.

I have been a fan of Jennifer Connelly’s ever since I saw her in Labyrinth in 1986. Fact is I love Jennifer Connelly—a fact my wife accepts; there is something about her quiet decorous beauty that draws one in. Once I gazed into those (then) larger then life blue eyes of Jennifer’s in Labyrinth, I was hooked, smitten by the teenaged Connelly and her innocence worn deftly on her sleeve. And through the years I have followed her career through highs and lows; her movie choices have not always been good for her career, but through them all she has grown as an actress.

She has starred of late in a couple of high profile films—The Hulk (2004), A Beautiful Mind (2003), in which her talent was not full realized; she was but a prop, a show piece, a pretty dame with pouting lips. It was in Requiem For A Dream (2000) that Jennifer really showed what she is made of, crossing barriers with aplomb and turning in a stunning performance. And once again in House of Sand and Fog (2004) we see Ms. Connelly shine once more, in a performance that should have had Oscar inscribed on every frame she appeared in, despite the movies obvious flaws.

It is mostly because of Ms. Connelly that I chose to watch one of her early 1990 films, The Hot Spot in which she appeared with Don Johnson and Virginia Madsen. The Hot Spotcame and went with barely a whisper back when it was released, a mostly unappreciated film despite the fact that

Siskel & Ebert raved about the film. Well written, superbly cast, this movie gives a glimpse into rural American life like few others in recent memory. A steamy tale with a fresh coating of sex, intrigue, betrayal, and violence, The Hot Spotis not a movie to enjoy with the children.

Story-Line

Directed by veteran actor and director Dennis Hopper, The Hot Spot, stars Don Johnson (Dead Bang, Miami Vice, Nash Bridges) as smooth-talking drifter Harry Maddox, a man who takes a job as a used car salesmen in a small southern town. Also working at the dealership is Gloria Harper portrayed by a young Jennifer Connelly (Some Girls, Career Opportunities, The Rocketeer), who immediately takes an interest in Harry, and he is her. But Harry's attention is soon drawn else-ware when the boss' wife, Dolly Harshaw portrayed by Virginia Madsen (The Haunting, After Sex, Sideways), a sexy, sultry harlot who all too soon entangles Harry in a tepid affair.

But there is another distraction in Harry’s life as well; the local bank. Seems the security system at the bank is non-existent—what this being a small town and all—and the only person manning the business during fires is the owner; all of the employees are members of the local volunteer fire department. And as luck would have it, the owner of the ban is none too swift, and is easily distracted. So Harry turns arsonist and sets a building ablaze, and while its burning robs the bank, and later saves a man from the blaze. Gloria witnesses Harry’s heroics and falls for Harry even harder…

My Thoughts

Be prepared, this is a long movie, which at times is painful slow in getting to the point, but perhaps that is the point. Life is rural America tends to be slow, boring, and drawn out. Excitement does not come easily, so the people have to invent it to keep themselves sane, no matter who or what gets hurt in the process. Johnson shines in this film; indeed by shedding the cocky grin and confident swagger, he seemed to perfect in Miami Vice, he easily carried the film. Johnson manages to turn Harry into a character that's so squalid and self-serving he can't help but be loathed and fascinating all at the same time. I found myself rooting for him despite the repugnant things he did.

Connelly’s performance in this film was understated, but effective; there were a lot of shots of her smiling, posing, staring with those wonderfully beautiful bluish-hazel eyes, and uttering barely a thing. But the chemistry between her and Johnson was evident from the moment the two appeared on the screen together, and towards the end of the film Connelly adds depth to her character in her own quiet manner. I defy and man to watch Jennifer in this seminal role and not fall in love with her character.

And then there’s Virginia Madsen. The chemistry between her and Johnson was also evident, as she plays her part of a small town schemer and harlot with relish. It’s a shame Madsen did not go on to wider acclaim after The Hot Spot, but at least she can be proud of her performance in this film.

Honorable mention should go to the supporting cast of this film, all of which did an excellent job; indeed the chemistry between among the cast is what in the end made The Hot Spotso enjoyable. Combine that with a credible and well written story line, set in a uniquely small town America setting, and the solid movie making skills of director Dennis Hopper, and you have a movie well worth watching even if it is at times plotting.

Related Reviews:

House of Sand and Fog

The Hulk

Requiem For A Dream


Recommended:
Yes

Viewing Format: DVD
Video Occasion: Good for a Rainy Day
Suitability For Children: Not suitable for Children of any age

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