Four Big Ones. Four Stars. Dark-hearted brilliance. How was this movie shrugged off by critics and audiences back in 1993? Just ridiculous. Steve Kloves did a phenomenal job with this bitter neo-noir, throwing out references to In Cold Blood and other genre staples while investing his own sense of moral shading and thematic exploration of love, violence, and the effects of lingering tragedy. The quiet, devastating narrative grips you right from the start, with one of the most… tension packed home invasion sequences I’ve ever seen on film. No music, perfectly edited, all pure cinema — a truly startling opening to an incredible film. Shot with unrelenting patience and style by master cinematographer Philippe Rousselot (Big Fish, The People vs. Larry Flynt, A River Runs Through It), this is a picture that feels like it was filmed literally in the middle of nowhere, with broken down homes and motels dotting the forbidding Texas horizon, as Rousselot’s camera endlessly surveys the bleak qualities of the barren landscape. There’s no smiling here for Dennis Quaid — that famous mile-wide grin is nowhere in sight during Flesh and Bone. It’s a tremendously internal performance, filled with sadness and a steely rage that feels as if it’s been brewing inside of him for years. James Caan is perfectly evil as Quaid’s menacing father who has done some things that can never be undone. A new to the business Gwyneth Paltrow steals every single scene she appears in (and does some side-action nudity), giving a sultry, creepy supporting performance as a drifter who gets mixed up with Caan’s ruthless father figure and which spices up the final act. And Kloves got an interesting turn from eternal screen-cutie Meg Ryan, playing a beaten-down stripper who crosses paths with Quaid, and whose life will forever be changed after falling in love with him. I love how Kloves had Ryan sport a black eye for much of this hard-bitten film, and the ending was a true wowser, giving you the pay off you’re hoping for while still subverting your final expectations. Total Crimes Against Cinema that this film isn’t available as a Blu-ray special edition; I’ll grab the $5 DVD for now and add it to the collection.