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PATTY HEARST

title: PATTY HEARST
year: 1988
cast: Natasha Richardson, Ving Rhames, William Forsythe, Olivia Barash
rating: ***1/2

Writer/Director Paul Schrader brings a gritty punk rock vibe to the Patty Hearst story which, based on her novel, follows the spoiled girl’s kidnapping by the S.L.A., headed by Ving Rhames, providing more monologues than a Shakespearean bard. The first act’s filmed with a mysterious, shadowy structure showing Patty inside a closet, the antagonists sporadically opening the door, filling her with threats and eventually, insight. This leads to the second act as a jaded Hearst joins the gang, robbing banks and blowing shit up. Other members include sly, cat-like Olivia Barash, a gossipy Dana Delaney, a moody William Forsythe and his tough "moll" Frances Fisher; the latter duo, in act three, on the run with the heiress-turned-fugitive after the others are killed in a bloody raid. Paul Schrader’s documentarian-style direction is fast and slick, and the script never gets one-sided. Although based on her own propaganda, the film shows Hearst, played wonderfully by Natasha Richardson, as someone who could be telling it like it was, or stretching her own truth. Either way, it’s a story that’s intensely brought to life by a cinematic maverick, born to recreate such a controversial biopic.
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