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Teen Movie Critic

Pat Canavan

March 19, 1999

Pat Canavan is a 16 year old boy from Mineola, Long Island, New York. He writes reviews for his school newspaper and recently had a review published in 21st Century, a magazine/newspaper for teens. He would love to someday write reviews for the New York Daily News or the New York Times. He is a junior at Mineola High School, hates the Backstreet Boys and conformism and loves the Yankees and movies. He hopes to attend NYU when he graduates high school.


In Doug Liman's 1996 sleeper hit Swingers, he paid tribute to Quentin Tarantino's breakthrough film Reservoir Dogs by emulating a scene in which the main characters walk in slow motion to their cars. In his new film Go, he pays tribute to Mr. Tarantino at even greater length by telling his story from three different perspectives, which is part of what made Pulp Fiction so successful. In contrast to his 1996 film, which was so character-driven, Go relies heavily on visuals to deliver its impact.

While some critics will call Mr. Liman a copycat, I would refrain from such surmise, for he is able to push the genre that Tarantino made famous as far as it can go.

The central home where the story commences is a suburban supermarket, where bored clerks debate such questions as "are there any dead celebrities whose first name begins with an 'X.'" The often sardonic Ronna (Sarah Polley of The Sweet Hereafter) is desperately in need of cash so she won't be evicted. Her ebullient English co-worker Simon (Desmond Askew) helps by giving her his shift while he goes out of town. The visibly tired Ronna is awakened when two charming strangers, Zack (Jay Mohr) and Adam (Scott Wolf of Party of Five) ask her to step in for Simon in a drug buy. Financially strapped, she jumps at the chance and takes her friend Claire (Katie Holmes) with her.

She able to score some Ecstasy from Burke (Timothy Olyphant), Simon's creepy drug supplier. This only after she has to give up Claire as collateral while she finds the money. Ronna's story will end at a raze where she is selling cold medicine to stoned partygoers. We only see a glimpse of her story's end, as the second one begins where the first one started: the supermarket.

As in Swingers, Liman shoots the film himself and creates a fast paced energy that can be both dizzying and inviting. The speedy action matched with caustic dialogue can be most easily seen in the second story, that of Simon's Las Vegas spree. Along with his buddies, he indulges in gambling and lap dancing, finally culminating with a car chase on the Vegas strip. While this type of run-through may seem a bit cliché, Liman's jolt of energy and screenwriter John August's trenchant humor make the action seem all too original.

The final story is that of Adam and Zack, two soap-opera stars that were eager to make a drug buy back at the supermarket. William Fichtner has a key role in this segment as an eccentric undercover cop whose ambiguities leave us wondering if whether or not he's gay. Even Adam and Zack are under suspicion when Claire sees them and makes the observation "Gay man are so hot. It's tragic."

Liman doesn't use much excess light while shooting and doesn't seem to mind if a shadow is momentarily visible, "just like in real life," he says. While lacking the character depth of "Swingers," Go makes up for it with attitude and wit. Perhaps Mr. Liman has ever superceded the man he has paid tribute to as Hollywood's most precocious and bracing young director.

My Rating = Three Stars

Pat Canavan can be reached directly at Libbets16@aol.com.
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