John Sayles' “Limbo,” his 12th feature, starts by tracing the connections between various inhabitants of an Alaskan coastal town on the verge of becoming a tourist trap.

The protags are a country singer named Donna (Mary Mastrantonio) and Joe (David Strathairn), an ex-fisherman, both of whom are damaged individuals who need to put their painful pasts behind as they embark on a new relationship.

Donna is a well-traveled singer with bad relationships with men and with her drug-addict daughter. Her partner Joe has only been as far as Seattle, and his long absence from fishing is a mystery never explained. Then the unexpected happens, forcing all three to question their priorities and to take risks in what becomes a Robinson Crusoe story. Sayles customary ear for vivid banter and telling details fail him, and the film also lacks the intensity or rigor to serve as an allegorical fable.

Sayles remains consistent in his pattern to set each new film in a different region of the country, but he doesnt really explore the regions culture and people within the films context. The juxtaposition of Alaskas traditional and new industry dominant is simplistic: The old is restricted to logging and fishing, while a cruise ship symbolizes the new.

Sayles' storytelling here is perplexing, to say the least. Overextending its welcome by at least 20 minutes, “Limbo” takes a turn to the worse, with segues like the reappearance of Joe's half-brother and a pilot with whom Joe has “unfinished business”.

The open-ended resolution, instead of making viewers think about what they saw, left a bad taste in the viewers' mouths, which might explain why the first press screening at the Cannes Film Festival, where it premiered, was booed.



Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio (Donna De Angelo)

David Strathairn (Joe Gastineau)

Vanessa Martinez (Noelle De Angelo)

 Kris Kristofferson (Smilin' Jack)

Casey Siemaszko (Bobby Gastineau).




Screen Gems presentation of a Green/Renzi production, released by Sony Pictures.

Director: John Sayles

Producer: Maggie Renzi

Screenplay: John Sayles

Camera: Haskell Wexler

Editor: John Sayles

Costumes: Shay Cunliffe

Music: Mason Darling

Production Design: Genna Jackson


Running Time: 126 Minutes