Oof

That’s how I felt about five minutes ago. On Wednesday night I was (mostly) knocked out by Blue Sky, Tony Richardson’s drama about an Army major (Tommy Lee Jones) and his sexual loose cannon of a wife. Jessica Lange plays the woman, who, in a script today, would be carefully labeled “bipolar” to make her behavior comprehensible to modern audiences. In Richardson’s movie, though, she’s a jack-of-all-nutcases: about equal parts nympho, nonconformist, mad housewife, and brainwashed by the media. (She keeps taking on the look of movie stars—Gardner, Monroe, Taylor—as she gleans them from womens’ fan mags, and the opening scene pays tribute to Bardot’s oh-my-god sunbaths in …And God Created Women and Contempt.) The movie’s last half hour gets lost in an uninvolving subplot about an Army scandal, but until then it’s just a killer portrait of a decent and intelligent man’s devotion to a helplessly carnal and unstable woman.

Jones and Lange are practically a perfect matchup, but I was really drawn to the handful of scenes between the couple’s two young teenage daughters, Amy Locane and Anna Klemp. Their mother’s very public antics and their father’s consternation have forced the girls to grow wise beyond their years, and the result is a sardonic but palpably loving attitude towards their parents. (“She’s crazy and he’s blind,” offers one of them. The other agrees: “They’re perfect for each other.”) Locane, who was 23 at the time but playing about 16, is just ridiculously watchable here; she even brought to mind Dana Hill’s incredible turn as the oldest daughter of another stormy couple, Diane Keaton and Albert Finney, in Alan Parker’s Shoot the Moon. Not being a big Melrose Place fan I wasn’t sure what else I might’ve seen her in, and it was while I was checking out her filmography that I stumbled across this news story. (Note the recent date). I know, I know, I should probably be getting all MADD on her ass, but there’s always a waiting-list of people eager to take that chore on. Coming so soon after Blue Sky, I’ll simply note what a waste it all is.

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