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Director:Ray McKinnon
Cast:Billy Bob Thornton, Lisa Blount, Ray McKinnon, Harry J. Lennix, Harry Dean Stanton
Release Date:2005

By Bret McCabe | Posted 4/27/2005

If Michelangelo Antonioni ever made a move about the rural Arkansas Ozarks, it might turn out as bizarrely transfixing as writer/director Ray McKinnon’s Chrystal. Ex marijuana runner Joe (Billy Bob Thornton) returns home to his wife, Chrystal (Lisa Blount), after many years in jail—and the car wreck that killed their son and left her a haunted, chronically pained, childless woman. Joe and Chrystal’s almost silent re-acclimation feels as awkward as a junior high slow dance, and Chrystal’s slow burn is fueled by their burnt-out souls trying to grasp for any reason to keep going. Sadly the movie dangles so many angst-filled story lines and oddly hypnotic images that this core relationship feels more like a spectral visitation than a plot. McKinnon, who co-stars as the sort of supremely off Southerner that fills out his acting résumé, has an eye for the indelible sequence—the wordless opening car chase and wreck that drives the wedge between Joe and Chrystal is an unsettlingly calm tour de force—but too many incomplete and/or unnecessarily operatic aspirations stall this stab at transcendental Southern ennui.

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