Written and Directed by John Sayles
John Sayles’s cross-cultural murder mystery explores the borders that create interpersonal and interracial tensions in Rio County, Texas. Sheriff Sam Deeds (Chris Cooper) is called to investigate the discovery of a skeleton of a murdered man buried in the desert forty years ago, and is drawn deeper into dark secrets held on both sides of the border when the trail leads to the now-deceased father he grew to hate, local legend and former sheriff Buddy Deeds. While Sam puzzles out the long-past events surrounding the mysterious corpse, rekindling a romance with his old high-school flame, an Army colonel who is losing his faith in the military (Joe Morton) has to confront his own, still-breathing father. Deftly interweaving the present and the era of the killing, communities and characters thought to live merely parallel lives are brought face-to-face as the plot draws to its startling finish. Cooper and Morton are supported by Matthew McConaughey, Kris Kristofferson, Elizabeth Peña, and Frances McDormand. Sayles’s most widely-seen film (which garnered his second Academy Award nomination for Best Screenplay) is frequently taught in high school and college film courses as well as American Studies and other disciplines. “Forget the Alamo”.