Saturday, November 12, 2005

Midnight Cowboy

Midnight Cowboy: Directed by John Schlesinger, 1969.

To me Midnight Cowboy is one of the all time classics of American cinema that has been all but forgotten.

The story is a simple one. Joe Buck (Jon Voight) is a small town Texan who seeks to escape the dead end dishwashing job he has by moving to New York to become a hustler. He's heard that New York is overflowing with women willing to pay for sex, and as he puts it "The only thing I'm good at is loving". Things don't work out as Joe plans and he ends up homeless, befriending another homeless man Rico 'Ratso' played by Dustin Hoffman.

The film operates on many levels but ultimately it deals with the pursuit of the American dream, making it big, and the dichotomy between mythical perceptions and the often harsh actualities of reality. Buck dreams of living the high life in New York while Ratso holds fantasies about the bounties of Florida.

At times hilarious, the film carries a very dark and sad mood that is always just a couple inches below the surface.

The performances are brilliant, while the direction, obviously influenced by the stylistic devices of the french new wave, does a superb job of guiding the film to it's heart wrenching ending.

It's a tale of having dreams shattered. It's a tale of friendship. It's a tale of the struggle for survival that at a base level everyone lives out each day. If you haven't seen this film, you owe it yourself to check it out. If you like the movie you should check out 'Marathon Man' and 'Day of the Locust' both of which are other excellent films directed by Schlesinger.

****Four stars