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FIVE CORNERS

      

For Hicksflicks.com, Friday, Aug. 28, 2020

EDITOR’S NOTE: This lackluster effort from John Patrick Shanley gets a Blu-ray upgrade this week, so someone apparently likes it. My review was published on March 4, 1988.

Here’s a major disappointment.

After his Oscar-nominated screenplay for “Moonstruck” one might think “Five Corners” — written by John Patrick Shanley before “Moonstruck” but produced afterward — would be something to look forward to.

“Five Corners,” however, is merely a half-baked, pretentious mess, a supposed slice-of-life thriller that brings together two main sets of characters and a few other subplots in a manner that is to some degree not unlike “Promised Land,” and just as disappointing.

       

           Jodie Foster, Tim Robbins, 'Five Corners' (1988)

The setting is 1964 New York, a Bronx neighborhood where Jodie Foster is a pet-shop employee stalked by the community psycho, now an ex-con. Her former boyfriend has renounced violence and become a civil-rights activist. Her new boyfriend is a crippled kid lacking in self-confidence. And the psycho talked her into meeting him in a remote area at midnight.

The second story has to do with a couple of glue-sniffing teenyboppers who are out for a good time. The boyfriend of one kicks them out of his car and pays a couple of other guys $5 to take them. He comes after them again, however, when the guys keep them out overnight, joyriding on the tops of elevators and bowling.

Oh, yes. There’s also the mysterious killer who uses a bow, and the goofy cops who are investigating the murder of a teacher found with an arrow in his back.

Is this a comedy? Some kind of experimental drama that wants to consistently shock us by keeping us off-guard? A nightmare in the minds of the characters?

      

It is all of these and less.

Shanley’s world here is farcical and violent, tragic and ridiculous — all at once. One moment the friendly neighborhood psycho is clubbing a penguin to death and the next moment the cops are speculating that an Eskimo might have done it for food.

The juxtapositions in his script are startling but uninvolving. There’s a distance here that is never overcome and Tony Bill’s literal direction just heightens that distance, along with plot holes and ridiculous shocks.

“Five Corners” may be symbolic and artsy to some, but I found it merely addle-brained claptrap that never really found its footing or convinced me for a moment.

“Five Corners” is rated R for violence, profanity and a glue-sniffing sequence.