Tuesday, February 10, 2009

True Colors (1991)

Lies. Deceit. Betrayal. It's What Friendship Is All About.

True Colors (1990) is a film written by Kevin Wade and directed by Herbert Ross. The cast included John Cusack, James Spader and Richard Widmark in his final movie role.

This is a by-the-numbers tale of political chicanery and fallen idealism, but it works because of several strong performances. James Spader and John Cusack play law-school pals whose college idealism quickly falls away once they reach the real world. Playing against type, Spader is the straight arrow who goes on to work for the Justice Department. Cusack is the slippery conniver who parlays a job as an aide to an aging senator (Richard Widmark) into a springboard to elective office, all the while cutting corners, compromising his integrity, and breaking rules. For good measure, there's also romantic backstabbing. The film tends to get a shade heavy on the moralizing as Cusack slides further down the slope to outright corruption; Spader practically carries a sign saying, "I have the moral high ground." Still, both actors give their characters an interesting spin, and it's always good to see Widmark back in action. --Marshall Fine

Plot: John Cusack and James Spader play against type in Kevin Wade's morality play, directed by Herbert Ross. Spader plays Tim Gerrity, a well-heeled WASP blueblood, who has dedicated his life to justice and public service. Engaged to Diana Stiles (Imogene Stubbs), the daughter of a powerful senator (Richard Widmark), Tim seems to have a rosy future ahead of him. Enter Peter Burton (John Cusack), Peter's working-class roommate at the University of Virginia. Peter, a ravenous and devouring go-getter, is out to climb the political ladder at any cost. He sees Tim and latches onto him. Their friendship blooms at the university and continues afterwards, with the weak-willed Tim constantly deferring to the antagonistic and aggressive Peter. But they finally come to blows on skis when Tim finds out that Peter has bedded Diana, who has decided to drop Tim for his lack of ambition. When Peter blackmails Senator Stiles to secure a House seat, Tim rouses himself from his lethargy to fight Peter politically. ~ Paul Brenner, All Movie Guide

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