Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

As with director John McNaughton's first effort, Henry: Portrait Of A Serial Killer, this unexpectedly remarkable film deserves an audience on video for several reasons. Possibly most surprisingly, it confirms that Luke Perry is the one member of the Beverly Hills 90210 cast who has a future in a career other than cosmetics sales. Yet even Perry's turn as a moral cop driven to robbing banks is shown up by Ashley Judd as the unhinged woman whose instability spurs his descent. Judd's fearless performance—which a lot more people would be talking about had this barely released film been widely seen—proves what a powerful actress she is, in a way the thankless girlfriend roles she's been given in films like A Time To Kill and Heat haven't. Finally, unlike Heat and other self-important crime melodramas, Normal Life strips away stylized pretensions in order to focus on its characters. Though there's every rational reason for the reluctantly bad Perry to leave the intractably mad Judd, the film nicely conveys the irrational, and very real, love that exists between them in the midst of sordidness and mounting chaos from both within and without.

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