Q: What appealed to you about the part?
A: It was an
interesting combo of southern gothic, weirdo Faulkner
stuff and contemporary realism... styles and
characteristics you donít find too much. Somehow it
avoids the clichťs and yet it embraces them at the same
Q: How did you find
working with Dennis Hopper?
It was great. I wish we could have done more things
togther. Like a brother. Like a crazy brother. Or a
crazy uncle (laughing).
Q: How do you pick your roles
Ė writer or director?
sometimes I just need a job. (laughing) I would like to
be able to say I have the luxury of picking my material
but sometimes I need the work. But it would be great to
pick and choose. I pick and choose as much as I can but
sometimes you canít be too picky.
known Dennis Hopper since 1969. Is this your first time
working with him?
A: I always
wanted to work with him but it just never came up. I
was in a rock níroll band back in the sixties called the
Holy Modal Rounders and they used one of our tunes for
"Easy Rider" called "If you want to be a bird" where
Jack (Nicholson) gets on the back of the motorcycle with
his football helmet and rolls down the highway. That
tune is our song so I actually met Dennis by that
Q: How did you find working
with Joseph Fiennes?
A: The thing
about Joe thatís so wonderful is that he has this open
quality about him thatís absolutely genuine so when
youíre acting with him, you never feel that anything is
being manipulated. Itís malleable. Itís something that
begins to happen because of his openness. I think heís a
Q: Do you prefer working on
independent films or blockbusters?
A: I love
independent films. Thatís the way I started out. Itís
the real bloodstream of filmmaking. Thatís where itís
at. But now and then, the big budget films come along
and you get the chance to work with big stars and why
Q: Is there a difference
working on independent films?
A: I think
itís almost always more frustrating in some ways. Itís
more chaotic. Thereís more pressure on time. Youíre
squeezed a lot more because of the money. On the other
hand, I think things get done simply because of that
pressure. The immediacy of getting it done calls up a
sort of bravado for everyone Ė youí ve got to get this
thing done. Although it can cause tempers to fly, you
still get good work done as opposed to the luxury of a
$40 to 50 million dollar movie where they spend three
weeks on a scene that we do in a half of day. That
doesnít make any sense.
Q: Does working on
independent films allow you to be more creative?
A: I think
freedom comes from an internal thing of being able to
allow yourself to be open and whether or not the budget
and production make that happen, I'm not quite sureÖ. It
depends more on the people youíre working with Ė the
director and other actorsÖ
Q: As a writer and
director, do you bring these skills with you to acting?
A: You always
have your antenna up. Itís great to be able to learn
stuff. Thereís always areas where you can learn stuff
especially from people who have experience. You learn a
lot more if youíre willing to not think that you know
everything. (laughing) If you think Iíve got more
experience than the next guy, you wonít learn anything
that way. You end up not being able to take anything in.
Amber Wilkinson, Eye for Film:
Zubin Mistry's cinematography is terrific, with each
scene drenched in quality, while the tensions running
beneath the surface are as taught as Mary's emotions...
The plot simmers along nicely, dipping and weaving
between the two storylines with grace and style. Towards
the climax, however, it becomes overboiled, as cracks in
the less well-defined characters start to show and
attempts by the director to look clever overtake the
action. While the film has flaws, they aren't fatal and
there is no doubt that you'll be thinking about it long
after the credits roll.
Sheri Linden, Hollywood Reporter:
The script by Amir Tadjedin and Massy Tadjedin
offers penetrating observations about the cruelty of a
mother tormented by guilt and the survival instincts of
a child forced to grow up too fast. But by expending so
much energy obscuring the connection between the two
story lines, it denies viewers a deeper involvement with
the characters. Despite the story's strengths and
impressive widescreen lensing, the film's theatrical
prospects look limited... Shepard is
well-cast as the tough, mystical proprietor who believes
in the curative powers of the Bible and shepherd's pie.
Matthew Turner, View London:
The cinematography is gorgeous (courtesy of Zubin
Mistry) and the performances are fine, particularly
Deborah Unger, who conveys more pain and suffering in a
single look than Shue does in her entire performance.
Itís also fun to see Dennis Hopper back in "Blue Velvet"
gibbering psycho mode again, though heís only in a few
It's a curious and rewarding film about the evolution
and destruction of character...The diner, incidentally,
is run by an excellently played manager (Sam Shepard),
a man who is paralysed by the expectations placed on him
by his own religious beliefs.
Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall:
It looks gorgeous, and the editing between the two
strands is coherent and ingenious, contrasting the sunny
domesticity of Mary's early life with Stephen's more
impressionistic experience and then Mary's descent into
paranoia, guilt and, of course, alcoholism. It's
intriguing and extremely enticing, with symbolic gusts
of wind and shafts of light showing the emotional impact
of various events. And the cast is good at drawing us in
Taking its cues from the light-saturated and repressed
world of Wim Wenders' "Paris, Texas", "Leo" is a
downbeat drama that tackles themes of regret, betrayal
and loss. In its best moments it looks stunning, the
dreamlike visuals lending a mesmerising quality. Full
marks to first-time helmer Mehdi Norowzian and DoP Zubin
Mistry for establishing mood, then. Now if only the
split-narrative script and characterisation were a match
for the visual atmospherics. Instead, too much here is
self-consciously literary - everything's clever and
distancing when it should be heartfelt and affecting.
Breathless, hot, and clammy, watching "Leo" is like
spending a summer night in the rural Deep South of
America. That's the setting for this torturous tale,
told in flashbacks and flashforwards, which follows two
seemingly unconnected characters who discover that their
lives are inextricably intertwined....Artful to the
point of being arsy, it's occasionally absorbing, but
sometimes stultifying. Blessed with some masterful
acting, this distinctly literary drama wears its
highbrow credentials on its sleeve with a series of
subtle (and not so subtle) references to James Joyce's
hernia-inducing tome Ulysses. While Fiennes is
brilliantly messianic in the title role, the film
belongs to Shue. This is easily her best performance
since she watched Nicolas Cage drink himself to death in
"Leaving Las Vegas".
Debut Brit director Mehdi Norowzian lets the twin
stories simmer in the Mississippi heat, and draws out
perfect performances. Shue seizes the chance to equal
her performance in "Leaving Las Vegas" as a mother whose
heart is torn out by frustration and guilt, making her a
tragic monster. Fiennes is almost retardedly repressed,
while Hopper is at his most poisonous since "Paris
Trout". A fascinating fable.
This accomplished feature debut from award-winning
ad director Mehdi Norowzian is an atmospheric and
visually stunning film that never sacrifices content for
style... Never rushing its narrative, the film gives us
plenty of time to absorb these intricate personalities,
gradually introducing the theme of resistance (or
otherwise) to the cruelty of chance.
British director Medhi Norowzian successfully builds
the basis of this dual narrative, moving smoothly and
coherently between characters, slowly dropping in clues
as to how these tales are linked. Zubin Mistry's
cinematography, meanwhile, is reminiscent of Conrad
Hall's work on "American Beauty". While Norowzian has
assembled a fabulous cast, it's Elisabeth Shue's
performance as the frustrated and tormented Mary that
really stands out... Norowzian has crafted an
intelligent and accomplished debut, which becomes caught
up in its own structure towards the end, but is
ultimately a satisfying experience.
This mesmerizing and intriguing tale of two parallel
lives, take characters from James Joyceís Ulysses and
places them in the southern American states. This
absorbing and compelling story of human tragedy and how
it reverberates through future generations is packed
with breathtaking performances from an all-star cast,
making this film gripping entertainment at its best!
The well-stocked cast, at first appearing to be
nothing more than a (clever) marketing ploy ultimately
ends up as the filmís most redeeming feature. Joseph
Fiennes is subtle and contemplative, walking the fine
line twixt dull and kooky while Elisabeth Shue pulls off
a similar trick being believably affected by the bum
hand sheís been dealt without ever becoming too weepy or
too psycho-crazy. The supporting players aquit
themselves well being solid and believable when the
direction allows. A special note has to be made about
Dennis Hopper and Sam Shepherd, both of whom are playing
roles their faces have almost become shorthand for:
Hopper is pleasingly mad, dangerous and mean (not quite
Paris Trout mad, dangerous and mean, but definitely mad,
dangerous and mean in that inimitable Hopper style),
meanwhile Sam Shepard is troubled and hard but in
the end reveals himself to be good and fair.