I haven’t yet seen the 1971 version directed by Sam Peckinpah, and starring Dustin Hoffman and Susan George, which is about an American intellect moving to a small town in UK to live with his wife. With this 2011’s, David Sumner(James Marsden) is a Hollywood TV director and a Harvard graduate, and his wife, Amy Sumner (Kate Bosworth) is a TV star of the show David, her husband, directs. They went back to her hometown and her father’s old farm house to take care of it, while David could use some alone time for his next project.
Arriving town in their convertible Porsche to the twilight zone, Amy is alerted of the people that she grew up with. Afterall, it is a small town in the South, everyone knows what everyone is doing! Right away, troubles come: city folks vs. small town rednecks. “Only fully-loaded Bud here” set the tone…and dare you ask for a Bud Light, sissy boy!
David is about being civilised, rational, and reasonable, and the town’s bullies are the usual: Let’s take it outside! or You want to get some!
Trouble maker #1: Tom Heddon(James Woods), the “-IST” and drunk, Trouble making gang: Charlie(Alexander Skarsgård), the good old high school quarter-back that never got the scholarship to become a new man, Norman(Rhys Coiro), Chris(Billy Lush), and Bic(Drew Powell) are his disciples that never leave town. Amy was the Cheerleader and Tom, the coach. An old picture of Charlie and Amy is still hanging in the bar, the typical shot with him in football gears, she her short cheer-skirt leaning against the big red truck. Town sheriff, John Burke’s(Laz Alonso) job is to keep the water from boiling over. The trouble making gang is hired to fix Amy’s father house’s roof.
I guess the film tries to force us to second guess Amy’s motive: is she still in love with Chris? does she resent her husband intellect? does she desire more physical sexual plays? does she think that her husband is not man enough? Does she lust for the man-touch that Chris can offer? or is she trying to take a feminist stand and cut the heavy sexual tension among the people she grew up with? Did she purposely bring her husband out there to toughen him up?
I have to say the weakest link is Amy here. Charlie and David fit well in their roles, one scene where they are talking, and you can visually see that David is no match in size, and muscle strength, hence he must use his wit to fight. Perhaps, Amy needs to be a bit more Sarah Tobias(Jodie Foster) The Accused (1988), so that we, audience, will create doubts and ambivalent with her feelings toward David and Charlie.
We are now in 2012, the climatic 15 or so minutes of brutality is a bit pale in comparison to any torture porns out there, but I read that it was controversial in 1971 with the original version.
My afterthought is that, if this story was transported back to the time when we worshiped warriors, perhaps David would have been the town nerd, and Amy should be rescued by the warrior-prince! And the sympathy in this case will certainly go to Charlie and his team. However, we are now 2012….So perhaps, there are still those who still hold strong belief in warriors, and hence their mal-adaptation has caused much griefs in our current civilized society: the Bullies! Nonetheless, I bet to ask also is fighting fire with fire the solution? as shown in this film? …maybe?