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A movie directed by Michael Steinberg

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  • Feb 6, 2002
Pros: Cast, production, writing, acting

Cons: only 5 stars available

The Bottom Line: If the story doesn't draw you, the reality will

The Oracle says: William Forsythe has a Bacon number of 2.
William Forsythe was in Coastlines (2002) with Josh Brolin
Josh Brolin was in Hollow Man (2000) with Kevin Bacon ***

A poignant drama/comedy that focuses on three main characters that are paraplegic, and who are confined in a rehab hospital, forced to become friends of sort.

Billed as the main character, Joel (Eric Stolz) is an accomplished writer, with a burgeoning career. During a fall in a hiking accident, he is left paralyzed and spiteful. Little use for his fellow bedmates, little use for the outside world. His one shining hope is his married lover Anna (Helen Hunt), who is also his editor. Eventually he even questions this relationship, wondering if they will be happy now that his manhood has diminished.

Our second character, biker gang member Bloss (William Forsythe) carries the ‘poor mans dream’ to get rich because of his accident. Riding his motorcycle, totally drunk, he is broadsided by a rich boy in a Mercedes – ah …. The American Dream. Unfortunately, Momma hires a no good lawyer from a TV ad, so you pretty much get the idea that his dreams of riches and glory are going to fall flat. Outspoken, bigoted, Bloss views all the men in the ward as slime and beneath him.

And the third, most vocal and in my opinion most talented, in the group is Raymond (Wesley Snipes). Raymond is the glue that sticks all these people together. He is outspoken, telling of his sexual conquests, especially with the lovely stripper Annabelle Lee. He pushes people together, pulls people out. He talks, and talks, and talks. He’s the bug in your ear, the pain in your neck. In other words, a lonely dysfunctional man with no one in his life.

Sure, Raymond has a beautiful wife and a darling daughter. But the wife shows up with divorce papers in her hand – tired of Raymond’s scheming and meandering ways.

So, what we have are three walks of life, joined under the same circumstances. Forced to share their lives, as pitiful as they may be, with each other. Forced to become friends, forced to open their selves up to each other and learn to live again in their new capacity.

There is one particular scene when Raymond and Bloss are outside at night, drinking, basically challenging each other with their chairs. They both tumble backwards and fall to the ground and are staring up at the stars. Raymond is overcome, turning to Bloss and saying that it feels like he is standing up again and looking at the skies above him. Bloss replies with, yeah but he hopes someone comes around and finds them before morning.

The most unique thing about this entire production is the fact that writer and director Neal Jimenez is paralyzed himself. He knows these feelings, these times of painful awareness that things will never be like they used to be. He is able to project not only the anger these men are feeling but also the fear and frustration.

Speaking of frustration – there are two delightful scenes between Hunt and Stolz (one you actually get a glimpse of Hunt’s perky breasts) – that I really shouldn’t make light of. Sexual dysfunction is something that is deeply discussed in this movie and the scene when Snipes states that in no way will he ….. never mind, use your imagination. Again, this isn’t something I should joke about, it is a painful and all too apparent problem these men face.

Even as heavy as the drama in this movie, the comedy is just as wonderful. Interaction between the men on the ward, the nurses, the gals in the strip club, Hunts’ embarrassing moment behind the curtains on the ward, all add to the charm of the movie.

Most of the production was filmed inside the wards of the hospital but the few scenes on the exterior were beautiful. The cast gave more than required performance for this underrated movie, especially Snipes who delivers a powerful jolt. As well, Forsythe becomes more than you expected he would as his world begins to open to others. It is a movie about freedom – having it, losing it, and finding it again.

Stars: Eric Stolz, Helen Hunt, Wesley Snipes, William Forsythe, Elizabeth Pena and Barbara Alyn Woods as the stripper Annabelle Lee. Written by Neal Jimenez, directed by Neal Jimenez and Michael Steinberg.

Don’t miss the opportunity to catch this wonderful film.


Awards: Nominated for Artios Award, Casting Society of America, 1992 (Best Casting); Nominated for Critics Award, Deauville Film Festival, 1992 (Neal Jimenez, Michael Steinberg); Nominated for Independent Spirit Award, 1993 (Best Supporting Male – William Forsythe, Wesley Snipes); Won Independent Spirit Award, 1993 (Best First Feature); Won Audience Award, Sundance Film Festival, 1992 (Dramatic); Won Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award, Sundance Film Festival, 1992 (Neal Jimenez).

*** Compliments of: Department of Computer Science
School of Engineering, University of Virginia


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Susi Dawson ()
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About this movie


Eric Stoltz is Joel Garcia, a talented young writer who awakens from a hiking accident to find that he is paralyzed from the waist down. In order to put his life back together, he must graduate from a rehabilitation center. There he meets ladies' man Raymond (Wesley Snipes) and racist biker Bloss (William Forsythe), both recovering from similar accidents. As the three men strive to reconcile the bitterness they each feel, they become friends and learn to live with their reality. Co-Director and screenwriter Neal Jimenez's (RIVER'S EDGE) script is loosely based on his own experiences. Winner of the Audience Award and the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award at the Sundance Film Festival.
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Director: Michael Steinberg
Release Date: 1992
MPAA Rating: R
DVD Release Date: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment (December 18, 2001)
Runtime: 1hr 46min
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