Thursday, November 17, 2011

70's Bonanza: The Big Fix

Temporally, "The Big Fix" is a mess. Taking its narrative cue from the film noir genre of the 40's and transferring the self-reflexive private detective and his quest to solve a mystery to California in the 1970's is only the beginning. "The Big Fix" is really a film of the 1960's, as its ideas and eventual outcome all have to do with the radical counterculture of that time and its lingering effects on fathers and sons. I did say "The Big Fix" is a "mess", but only in the best sense of the word. Directed by Jeremy Kagan and starring Richard Dreyfuss in an engaging and complex performance that ranks as one of his best, "The Big Fix" begins with Dreyfuss, as P.I. Moses Wine, being hired by an old flame (Susan Anspach) to work for the political campaign of a governor hopeful. Someone is trying to dereail the campaign by associating the candidate to ex-60's liberal terrorist Howard Eppis (F. Murray Abraham in a scene-stealing performance, mimcing the energetic mania of Abby Hoffman). Wine takes on the case and lesiurely floats from suspect to suspect, eventually becoming embroiled in murder, the kidnapping of a hispanic movement leader, and his own ugly child custody issues with ex-wife Bonnie Bedelia. Basically, like the best sun noirs of the 70's (i.e. "The Long Goodbye" and "Night Moves"), "The Big Fix" deals with heavy issues in a very effortless method. At first glance, one wonders when and how this thing is going to work itself out as Wine dances from the personal to the professional with little regard for either. But then, when "The Big Fix" does kick in with narrative force, it becomes a sensational piece of 70's filmmaking full of depth, surprise and unconventional noir storytelling. And just hearing Dreyfuss explain the cast on his right arm (which he actually broke in pre-production) to everyone he meets is priceless.

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