Lone Star: Criterion Collection (Ultra HD 4K Blu-ray)

When the skeleton of his murdered predecessor is found, Sheriff Sam Deeds unearths many other long-buried secrets in his Texas border town.

April 2, 2024 7 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

Many films of the nineties fills itself up with capers with twists left and right with the entire film being a weird and wild ride. One film however decided to take a different turn and go into more character than action. This film tells the tale of a shadow of a man, the past coming back and a literal melting pot that just might simmer over deep in the heart of Texas in the town of Lone Star.

Once upon a time, there were two men out treasure hunting. They seemed to be on a whopper of a hunt until one of their hot finds is the skull of a dead person and a badge buried in the dirt nearby. After searching, it’s found to be the head of one Charlie Wade (Kris Kristofferson) a corrupt sheriff who left his mark with two deputies in hand. One night, according to a deputy older in present day, an argument ensued between Wade and a deputy and Wade was never seen from again along with $10,000. As the trail gets deeper as to what really happened that night, one man (Chris Cooper) who’s presently sheriff, and who’s father was one of the most respected sherriffs in the town along with being on the receiving end of that argument, starts to learn what kind of man his father was and what role he played in this culturally diverse town.

If there’s one thing this viewer can say, the novel approach to this film is a key one and mainly driven by focusing on a few characters and letting them grow within the town with all the town’s differences with the central difference being the investigation of what happened thirty years earlier. There’s a lot of in between and a lot that can be thrown in making the normal viewer scratch the head and wonder where it fits, but if you stick with the film throughout the entire length, it all fits.

This is more of a tale of reliving the past, rekindling old flames, and getting down to the bottom of things in a town that has it’s own share of clashes of culture and with the wind of change in present day. It takes its time getting there and when it gets there it’s all worth it in the end and it’s done well by director John Sayles and the ensemble cast in that it doesn’t take the flashy approach but rather would take a character building approach with a very clever flashback technique transitioning one scene from the other and incorporating the little details in between as well.

There is no shoot em up ending and there is no downer of a tale but rather it’s a story of life in a southern town where some values have changed but many of the rules stay the same. It’s a town worth visiting and Lone Star is a film worth exploring.

Video: How does it look?

Lone Star was one of the early titles released on DVD and it’s one of the rare John Sayles movies to be shot in the 2.39:1. Criterion has done is usual remastering and having not seen this in some time (and never in 4K, obviously) I found it to be like seeing it for the first time. The different times of day, the transitions use a limited color palette but one pleasing to the eye for some moments and a little bit monochromatic the next. It’s a bit more cinematic looking than I remember, but Criterion’s efforts have not gone unnoticed. It’s, by far, the best the film has ever looked.

Audio: How does it sound?

We’ve got a fairly standard DTS HD Master Audio 2.0 mix with the occasional Spanish music in the score. However, this is mostly a dialogue driven piece and most of that comes from the center channels with the clarity having good results. The sounds of the smaller effect don’t sound as loud as the others but it takes a subtle volume that is easy to hear. It’s a nice track, but certainly one that won’t be too memorable.

Supplements: What are the extras?

  • John Sayles with Gregory Nava – Director John Sayles discusses the movie with filmmaker Gregory Nava. He also goes over some of the inspiration he used while making the film as well as its long-lasting influence.
  • Stuart Dryburgh – Cinematographer Stuart Dryburgh essentially discussed what it was like working with John Sayles on the film.
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Illustrated Booklet – We find Domino Renee Perez’s essay “Past is Present” as well as the usual production notes and stills from the film.

The Bottom Line

Lone Star fills out it’s running time with character development, culture clash and a mystery of thirty years more than you can shake a stick at. Using a calmer approach to the material, it’s given novel justice in the film and makes for a decent watch. Criterion’s efforts are top notch, so after nearly three decades of waiting for a decent release – we’ve finally got one.

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