Chain Letters | Chicago Reader

Chain Letters

An American independent film by Mark Rappaport (Local Color). With its convoluted tale of a cryptic chain letter threading its way through the lives of a group of downtown types (a paranoid Vietnam vet, his college professor brother, a trio of strangely predatory women, a male hustler, etc), it has some of the flavor and structural playfulness of a Thomas Pynchon novel, yet Rappaport doesn't have the filmmaking grace necessary to make the structure hum. Much of it seems knotted and arbitrary, and when Rappaport's narrative inventiveness fails him, he resorts to staging domestic squabbles between his characters, though his actors aren't convincing or intense enough to bring them off. Still, it's encouraging to see an American film that dares to tackle some aspect of contemporary reality, no matter how clotted the results may be. With Mark Arnott, Reed Birney, Marilyn Jones, and Randy Danson.

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