Saturday, 11 June 2016

Out of Sight (Steven Soderbergh, 1998)

Play this music before you read this review. Come on, do it!

For about a decade after it came out, Out of Sight flirted with becoming a cult hit, but it just seems to have fallen into the sea of obscurity.

It's a real shame. Based on a book by the late, great Elmore Leonard (Get Shorty, Jackie Brown and Justified), Out of Sight is one of the best movies of the nineties, and one of the few movies that lives up to the adverb 'sexy'. It is the movie that helped make George Clooney a movie star, and helped rehabilitate Steven Soderbergh's career after almost a decade of flops.

Out of Sight tells the story of Jack Foley (Clooney) and Karen Sisco (Jennifer Lopez). He's a former bank robber and recent prison escapee; she's a federal marshall. They fall in love. Kinda. As is usual with Leonard, nothing is as it seems, and our heroes(?) aren't likely to swan off into the sunset. Throw in a crooked financial wizard (Albert Brooks) and a psycho ex-boxer (Don Cheadle) and you have the makings of one of the best mainstream entertainments Hollywood has ever produced.

George Clooney is pure star power as career crib Jack Foley. Foley is to Clooney what Cool Hand Luke was to Paul Newman -- a complete shit who you somehow root for.

Jennifer Lopez is almost unrecognisable here. She is so good and so charismatic, it's hard to believe she's the same actress as the one in The Back-Up Plan. She matches Clooney beat for beat, and their chemistry is almost visible in their scenes together.

Steven Soderbergh had had a terrible 90s. Following the unexpected success of his debut, sex lies and videotape, Soderbergh's next couple of films were met with a mixed critical and commercial response. Soderbergh's struggles in this period have been well-documented.

Soderbergh felt like he was too controlled, and that his increasingly esoteric filmography was walling him in. Following the stylistic freakout of Schizopolis (1996), a free-wheeling comedy in which he starred opposite his ex-wife and their daughter, was a catalyst for his re-birth. Out of Sight completed Soderbergh's evolution.

Stylistically the movie is a joy, with Soderbergh employing a variety of techniques  (jump-cuts, freeze frames) associated with New Hollywood and the French New Wave. He even pays homage to the intercut love scene from Nicholas Roeg's Don't Look Now.

Armed with Scott Frank's tight, economical script and DJ David Holmes' funky 70s-style score, Soderbergh creates one of his most accessible and entertaining films. Almost 20 years after its release, Out of Sight is still...

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