MOVIE REVIEWS

Miami Blues

6/10 R 01 hr 37 min

Wikipedia

January 1, 1990

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Miami Blues is directed by George Armitage who also adapts the screenplay from the novel of the same name written by Charles Willeford. It stars Alec Baldwin, Fred Ward, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Charles Napier. Music is by Gary Chang and cinematography by Tak Fujimoto.

Ex-con Frederick Frenger Jr. (Baldwin) lands in Miami and quickly continues his criminal ways. Hooking up with gullible prostitute Susie Waggoner (Leigh), Frenger, by now under suspicion for the killing of a Hare Krishna man at Miami airport, steals the identity of the policeman investigating him and ups his crime spree...

This is all about the characterisations, for the story is simple and played as a darkly comic hard boiled cop picture. We are in a stripped back Miami, no gloss here, wherever the psychotic Frenger goes, there is crime that he is only too willing to enhance. Quite often with violent but humorous results. His union with Susie is a matter of convenience, as she, the gullible tart with the heart, dreams of a white picket fence house - marriage - babies, he dreams only of her cash and the comfort of cover she affords his criminal doings. Then there is Sgt. Hoke Moseley (Ward), straight out of noirville, world weary, grizzled, incapable of genuine affection, tatty and someone who soaks his false teeth in a glass of brandy! It's a wonderful character brought vividly to life by Ward, especially when Frenger steals said set of teeth! And with Leigh and Baldwin also making good on the characters as written, this is very much worth a look for the acting performances.

It's not under seen or under valued, the respective ratings on internet sites and critical appraisals are about right. There's some value in the dark comedy born out of the crime sequences, where we are dared not to smile, and the violence is impacting without hitting us over the head for the sake of it. But without Junior, Susie and Hoke holding our attention, the film would be flat and forgettable. 6/10

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