Picks and Pans Review: Barbarosa
All right, pay attention: While this Western about a red-haired outlaw stars country singer Willie Nelson, and he has long been planning to make a film based on his album Red Headed Stranger, this is not that film. The screenplay for the film of Red Headed Stranger, still in the planning stages, is being written by William Wittliff. He also wrote Barbarosa. And guess who directed this movie, set mostly in Mexico but shot mostly in Texas: an Australian, Fred (The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith) Schepisi. It might have been possible for a good movie to come out of all that confusion. One didn't. This is just a ponderous and preposterous tale about a clever gunman who is involved in a vendetta with a Mexican family for reasons that are never clear. He stumbles across a clumsy farm boy—a corpulent Gary (The Buddy Holly Story) Busey—who is also on the lam, having inadvertently murdered his brother-in-law. They team up. Nelson is a natural, relaxed actor, and Busey is a good one, too, if more self-conscious. But this film has a script so forlorn and humorless, so hazy and unlikely, that they can't do much other than look weathered and naive, respectively. The only thing that saves the ending from seeming especially impossible is that the rest of the movie seems that way too. (PG)
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