The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
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All Critics (10)
| Top Critics (7)
| Fresh (5)
| Rotten (5)
If only it weren't such a disturbingly retro and sadistically sensationalized take on the subject. If only it were any good at all.
Like some of King's other tales, it loses its way, devolving into a rape revenge fantasy whose potency is diluted by silly gimmicks like a talking GPS system with a mind of its own.
Solid star turn, eerie production values, even a killer ending. Nice symmetry, Steve.
Such commercial considerations notwithstanding, in the wake of a recent run of cynical Lifetime movie topics, from Saved by the Bell to Brittany Murphy, Big Driver runs into another creative dead end.
A few horror-story cliches seep in, but with Bello playing a character who is strikingly unglamorous and at times not even sympathetic, Big Driver should deliver for its audience.
It's too simple and straightforward for its own good.
You've gotta really be willing to throw logic out the window to enjoy "Big Driver," a revenge-thriller based on the Stephen King novella. But, as TV movies go, it isn't that bad and certainly the cast is excellent.
An often toothless and ridiculous rape revenge thriller...
It's a powerful film - not because its story of a vengeful female will shine a light on social injustices, but simply because it grips viewers and doesn't let go until the credits are rolling. Maria Bello is a pain-stricken wonder.
Big Driver is slimmer in content, as well as form, than Misery, but it is nonetheless gripping.
Imagine I Spit On Your Grave. Now think if Stephen King did it. Now dial it back a notch or two. Done.
Very graphic and disturbing, but it was based on a Stephen King story, after all.
If I had known that this was a Lifetime TV movie I never would've rented it. Not because it's a network for women or anything of the sort, a good movie is a good movie, it's just that their films are usually very melodramatic and soapy and I simply do not care for that type of storytelling. Their movies based on real-life crimes are pretty sensationalized so they can get the most viewers possible to watch their film. Like I said, it's not my type of storytelling. So, color me surprised, when I find out that this is a Lifetime TV movie only seconds after renting it. This is coming from someone that, less than a week ago reviewed Finders Keepers and thought it was terrible, but I felt so nervous about my rental. I was thinking to myself that this is gonna suck and why did I rent the film without doing research, I honestly don't get it myself. All of these thoughts going through my head. And, again, this is coming from someone who's watched the worst of the worst and a LIFETIME TV MOVIE got me feeling this way. Color me surprised, again, that this isn't actually a half-bad movie. And I'm using Lifetime TV movie standards for this, because if I watched it as anything else, I probably wouldn't have been as 'positive' towards this film as I was. What I like about this movie is that, while it starts off like your typical rape revenge thriller, And, in execution, it mostly plays out like that. But there's a little twist in the film as Tess Thorne, play by the always talented Maria Bello, is actually a schizophrenic. So you'd see scenes where she's having a conversation with her GPS or one of her characters would appear to her in order to rationalize and justify what she's about to do. She even has a conversation with a person she murders. Because of that, and how an author like Tess would try to figure out this horrible situation and the motives of those involved, the film has a surprising amount of comedy. This is mostly in the conversations she has with the voices in her head. I think it makes it a point not to actually make fun of schizophrenia per se, but the conversations can be pretty funny sometimes. It's not like Borat funny, where tears are coming out of your eyes, but it is funny considering the subject matter and the fact that it comes out of nowhere. If it wasn't for that, this would've been every other rape revenge thriller, except a tamer version of it since they're on cable TV. There's some violence, perhaps more than I was expecting, but it's nothing too completely gruesome or nauseating. Maybe there were a couple of extra seconds of blood shooting out, since it is an unrated DVD. I really couldn't tell since I didn't watch the TV version. And even if I would've, I doubt I would've liked it so much that I felt it was necessary to watch it again on DVD to spot the differences. But, as far as a simple, exploitative/revenge thriller, this one does make it satisfying to watch Tess get her revenge on the people who wronged her. It's a simple story. Tess gets raped, she goes on the hunt for revenge and finds out that his mother, the woman who invited her to the speaking arrangement at the beginning, has been supplying women for her son to rape and kill. She then finds these people and murders them, the rapist's brother also having something to do with it. Simple, to the point and effective for the audience that it was hoping to get. There's also some insight there into the incredibly ridiculous and moronic rape culture. As, after the fact, Tess refuses to tell anyone of what happened to her for fear that they'd say she was asking for it, call her a slut, etc. This has some real life relevance in this day and age where people are victim blaming, and shaming, instead of persecuting those responsible for this act. Funny considering that some men seem to think that rape isn't really that bad. Which is sort of like a white person telling a black person what's racist and what's not. You can see how ridiculous it comes across, right? A man cannot tell a woman what rape is or isn't. He just can't. This society we live in is fucked honestly. The film sort of taps into how Tess perceives how OTHERS will perceive her rape and it's hard truth to swallow for some, but that's how it is for some women. They're so afraid of the backlash they're gonna get that they don't say anything because some people in our society choose to blame them instead of the perpetrator of this terrible crime. It's not like this movie is gonna spark a nationwide debate on rape and how our society perceives it, it's just something that got me thinking about that and I went off on a little bit of a rant about it. But I digress, the movie doesn't really go into this part of the film, the backlash Tess feels her rape would bring upon her, it just gives us a little bit of it. This is a revenge movie first and foremost. I do kind of wish the movie would've been a little more violent, I think it would've made the murders all the more satisfying, but I get the limitations of the medium. The acting is solid, Maria Bello does a very good job here and Olympia Dukakis has some pretty funny lines here. To be honest, while I didn't give this film a good rating, because it wasn't good, I enjoyed watching it. It looks and feels like a TV movie, but the story works on some level. It's not gonna win any awards or anything and, again, the rating is by the standards of Lifetime TV movies. I wouldn't recommend it to be honest, but I can think of worse ways to spend your time if you're bored and need something to do. This might not change your worldview, but it'll give you a decent revenge story.
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