YEAR: 1991

ROLE:  Jack

DIRECTOR:  Michael Fields

US PREMIERE: June 14, 1991

Plot Summary

Adapted by Richard Ford from two of his short stories, this contemporary western is about a naive Montana teenager named George who longs to escape from his broken home before his dysfunctional parents push him over the edge. He links up with his friend Claude and a pretty girl named Lucy, a drifter with a checkered history, and the three begin a journey in which they encounter a slew of volatile and twisted people.

Film Details

Dermot MULRONEY........George
Lili TAYLOR........................Lucy
Valerie PERRINE..............Aileen
Burt YOUNG..........................Art
Bill PULLMAN.....................Bob
Benjamin BRATT.............Claude
Mary Kay PLACE.................Judy
Delroy LINDO..................Harley

Movie Stills

Roger Ebert:
"Movies like this (reminds me of Terrence Malickís 'Badlands' and 'Days of Heaven') depend so much on actors for the right tone, and Lili Taylor and Dermot Mulroney are perfectly matched to the material. Their characters seem to feed on each otherís energy; theyíre in such need that without each otherís support they might simply fly off into emptiness. The movie surrounds them with characters from film noir - hard people waiting in those unfriendly rooms for deliveries to arrive and decisions to be made, and other people, junkheads so fried that their conversations seem like free association. And around all of this is the West, which used to be the frontier, but has now been passed by and surrounded."

NY Times:
"Richard Ford's lean prose is much more cinematic on the page than it is in 'Bright Angel,' an elliptical, slow-moving film adapted by Mr. Ford from stories in his 'Rock Springs' collection. The laconic reflectiveness of Mr. Ford's characters and the arid precision of his observations are not easily translated into visual imagery. The decaying Western scenery is here, as are some of Mr. Ford's muscular, hard-bitten characters, but what goes on beneath their opaque surfaces remains a mystery. And Mr. Ford has difficulty cobbling a coherent narrative out of what, in his original material, were essentially vignettes.

"'Bright Angel' is one of those films that breathe freshness and life into familiar genres. Basically a road movie about a pair of young lovers who become involved in crime, Michael Fields' first feature as a director boasts a full cast-list of near-perfect performances. The intelligent and spare screenplay is by Richard Ford, who based it on two of his short stories."

LA Times:
"Though director Fields doesn't have a consistent visual style, he maintains sympathy with the material, the milieu, the characters. Fields knows the values of these actors - Shepard's haggard romanticism, Lili Taylor's spunky, defiant sluttishness, Sheila McCarthy's homespun flakiness, Burt Young's murderously oozy-woozy casualness - and he lets them spin it out. If 'Bright Angel' isn't completely successful, it still catches a mood, a place. And you can almost sense how grateful these actors are. They don't have to knock themselves out, torturing up an imaginary subtext to justify banal lines. They can flow with the script and their instincts: like George, let the road carry them where it will."

TV Guide:
"While some viewers may find the brutal ending gratuitous, it's no more out of place than a tornado or a flash flood would have been. 'Bright Angel' takes place in a world in which violence is a natural phenomenon, lying just beneath the surface and waiting for the inevitable confluence of elements that will allow it to erupt."

Austin Chronicle:
"Someone, it seems, has been watching too many '70s road pictures and reading Jim Thompson novels way too late at night. 'Bright Angel' is set just north of Starkweather territory in the long, empty spaces of Montana and Wyoming. First, we see young Mulroney and his father Shepard hunting ducks. Next we see Shepard throwing his wife out of the house for fooling around one too many times, and then we see Mulroney climb into his car with trouble - a trashy young Taylor on a very dubious mission. She's off to help her 'brother' in jail in Casper, Wyoming. Clearly, no good can come of this; everyone has a gun. And, just as in a Thompson novel, most of these people aren't very nice."