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‘Dark Blood’

by Giovanni Fazio

River Phoenix could be called the Heath Ledger of his generation: young, blonde, handsome, intense; both rose to fame as straight actors in gay roles (Phoenix in “My Own Private Idaho,” Ledger in “Brokeback Mountain”) and both died from accidental overdoses, just as their careers were taking off.

“Dark Blood” was the film Phoenix was working on when he died in 1993, and now, two decades on, Dutch director George Sluizer has finally cobbled together a cut, voicing his own narration explaining the scenes that were never filmed. Jonathan Pryce and Judy Davis are a bickering Hollywood couple whose car breaks down in the Nevada desert where they are seemingly rescued by a strange loner named Boy (Phoenix), who lives by himself in a ramshackle hut. It starts off as a decent southwestern noir film, with Phoenix’s maybe-crazy character putting the moves on Davis, but gets bogged down by pretentious dialogue and an off-kilter performance by Phoenix. It holds together fairly well, but it’s not a great film to be remembered by.

For a chance to win one of three “Dark Blood” postcard sets, visit http://jtimes.jp/film.