Trouble in Mind (1985)

Trouble in Mind (1985), written and directed by Alan Rudolph.

I was nuts about this movie back then and saw it in the theater many times, but the mood of that moment has passed. It's been so long that it seems like a different film. I still remember all the lines, and in fact I've been quoting them unknowingly all these years ("Wrong man at the right time don't mean s***, pal").

What was quirky and offbeat then seems more strained and farcical now. But at moments it still amazes the mind and tugs at the heart.

Hawk (Kris Kristofferson) is a police detective who has just spent years in jail for murdering a thug who needed killing. He did it for Wanda and returns to Rain City (Seattle in our world) hoping to get with her again, but she just wants to be friends. The years have made him bitter and our question is: is he too far gone, or does he have one last heroic soul-saving gesture in him?

Wanda (Geneviève Bujold) owns a diner. She collects stray people and is that sort of tough human glue that keeps a little society together. She likes Hawk, loves him even, but he is loads of trouble.

Coop (Keith Carradine) and Georgia (Lori Singer, who I always confused with Daryl Hannah back then) are dumb kids with a baby, looking for a new chance in the city. Crime is on Coop's mind and he partners with Solo (Joe Morton), a thief who writes poetry in the cafe.

Crime in Rain City is controlled by Hilly Blue (Divine, wearing men's clothes for the first time). If Hawk wants Georgia, what if the price is going up against Hilly Blue to save her dumb husband?

They call it neo-noir, whatever that means. The beginning and middle have a serious, if other-worldly, tone. The violent dramatic climax is bizarrely over the top, but the sad ending recovers.

An odd thing: I've always had a favorite diner wherever I've lived. I distinctly remember spending time at Wanda's Cafe but I can't remember where it was, and it's fictional anyway. How strange is that?

Mark Isham provides a cuttingly poignant score and Marianne Faithfull sings the title song. At the end she takes us out with a heartbreaking cover of Kristofferson's "El Gavilan":

Storm on the mountain
Stars in the sky
Running for glory
Freedom to fly
Will you remember
Way down the road
Somebody loves you
More than you know

Like many of David Lynch's films, it ends with a glimpse of Heaven.

I can't tell if this is merely out of print in NTSC/region 1 DVD, or if it was never available. I imported a PAL region 2 disc. The OAR is supposed to be 1.66; it has been zoomed to 1.78 here. An 18 minute extra has the director and Carradine telling funny stories about the picture years later.