User Reviews (21)

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  • wigz30 March 1999
    I hope this movie receives more attention now that it's on video. Robert Forster gives a great performance that anchors the film. Also, the casting director has populated this effort with a very talented cast that is willing to go as far as the story requires. Yes, the road movie is a tired genre but I think the performances elevate the movie above its premise.8 out of 10.
  • Tricksy psychological thriller where no one is what they seems, nor indeed do they do what they seem!

    It's well cast (almost perfekt, in fact) with the performers seeming to enjoy themselves in their roles. Angela Plummer & David Thewlis are no strangers to playing off-the-wall characters and excel as always, but it's Robert Forster who steals the film and shows along with his superb performance in "Jackie Brown" what an under-rated character actor he is.

    If I've one criticism to make it's that when the characters are a little better revealed halfway through the film some of the tension dissipates a little but the plot keeps twisting and turning to the very end.

    Worth a couple of hours of your time.
  • A remarkable film that captures what it is like to suffer from obsessive compulsivity and blossoming insanity. As a psychologist, I can verify that Forster plays his role to perfection, capturing the confusion of his character, a confusion that only the one time chance flip of a coin can correct.

    The cast is all star and very good performances are turned in by Balk, Plummer, Sorvino and Gleason, especially by Sorvino of the long suffering sheriff.

    As a road picture/slice of life film, this excels. See it and note the verbal and nonverbal characteristics of the Forster character. This film is a winner at all levels.
  • Robert Forster is good as Jake, a psychiatrist who picks up a woman named Sandra, after her car is run off a desert road. Jake likes to make most of his decisions on the toss of a coin. The duo run into a confidence trickster named Santini, and that's when the fun and games begin.

    Jake soon hooks up with Sandra's sister Alice, who is supposed to meet Sandra in a diner. Jake then has a few surprises in store for Alice. The film isn't very long, and doesn't out stay its welcome. A blackly humourous road movie that is well worth seeing. The film clearly has its tongue firmly planted in its cheek.
  • I'd heard so many different opinions about this movie. At first it sounded like just another psycho-killer road movie (although with a cast of some of the greatest actors around) but then it got chosen for the Cannes film festival and won a bunch of other 'serious' awards. Anyway, one night my mom and dad saw it at a festival and when they got home they were arguing like mad - my dad (who hates EVERYTHING) called it a masterpiece - my mom said it freaked her out and shouldn't have been made! After that I didn't know what to expect but I knew I had to see it. Well, tonight I did and oh my God, it turned me upside-down. I wouldn't go so far as to call 'American Perfekt' a masterpiece, but it's smart, funny, beautifully acted and directed, and has moments of such straight-faced hilariously chilling brilliance that it made me remember why I love movies. I won't try and explain the plot in detail but Amanda Plummer plays a woman lost in the desert after her car is driven off the road by a mysterious car. She gets picked up by a criminal psychiatrist and a strange romance develops between them based on making all their decisions on the flip of a coin. Plummer is better than I've seen her since 'The Fisher King' (and even more beautiful) and Robert Forster is AWESOME! Better even than 'Jackie Brown'. David Thewlis is alternately funny, creepy and downright sad. And watch out for Chris Sarandon, too, as a gentle Deputy to Paul Sorvino's gung-ho Sheriff - a great performance that reminds us why he got nominated for an Oscar once (Dog Day Afternoon). The gorgeous Fairuza Balk is also excellent in a really intense performance much more mature than the usual flashier stuff she gets asked to do. Yeah, 'American Perfekt' starts off slowly but only because it's lulling you into a false state of security while it's crawling under your skin. And writer/director Paul Chart pulls it off without resorting to being 'above' his audience ie: despite all the clever different layers to the film, you never feel like it's trying to prove how smart it is - also, everyone really looks like they're having fun. All in all, 'American Perfekt' isn't so much a psycho 'art film' as a really neat and original movie that's been 'artfully made'. Give it chance and don't be afraid to laugh at how nightmarish it becomes. A warning to the faint-hearted, however - although Chart keeps the sex and violence fairly low-key, it has a habit of coming out of nowhere and is presented in such a matter-of fact way that it WILL stay with you (just ask my mom). There's another great score from Simon boswell, too ('Shallow Grave', 'Trainspotting').

    Now, where did I put that shovel ....?
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I can see why this movie gets so many different reactions. It's full of odd plot line decisions and strange pacing, likely to confuse as many people as it excites. For me, it's two main flaws were the way it was written, almost like two 45 minute shorts spliced together, and the fact that it ends abruptly in an unsatisfying manner.

    However, the fact that it ends in such an unsatisfactory manner comes largely from how it gripped me up to that ending. This movie is saved by an utterly convincing turn from Fairuza Balk. Together with Robert Forster as a lunatic doctor obsessed with chance, she drags the movie out of the 'okay for a quick watch psycho-thriller' rut it was so obviously heading into without her.

    As the sister of the doctor's last victim, who winds up riding cross county with him, all the while unaware of her sister's body shoved in his trunk, Balk is riveting. In all honesty I can't think of a movie off the top of my head she wasn't good in, and she saves the film.

    However, in the event you don't enjoy the interplay between her and Forster, there may not be too much in this film for you. Also worth noting is the fact that Balk is not introduced until halfway through the movie, meaning that you could lose interest before she turns up.

    Basically, I enjoyed this movie a lot once it got going, but the first half is really just setup, and pretty slow setup at that. However, the second half of the movie is very good, even if it does end in a way that doesn't really explain much of anything. This is a loosely plotted oddity that is saved by excellent turns from it's leads. If you watch without expecting miracles, I'm sure you'll have a good enough time with it.
  • Quality Rating:**(two stars) out of ***** American Perfekt is the kind of thriller that is going to be a cult appreciated for few. I rented this film because of Robert Forster, he had just been nominated by the Academy for Jackie Brown (in which he was great), and American Perfekt seemed to have an interesting plot, with elements of suspense, horror and drama. The film follows the story of a woman who is seeking for her problematic sister, and ends up getting involved with a seemingly normal guy, who actually turns out to be a psychopath (Forster). American Perfekt is a violent road-movie, with moments of unbearable brutality (like the scene in which Amanda Plummer's body is found) and special participations by David Thewlis, Paul Sorvino and Fairuza Balk, all of them playing (very) weird roles. Film director Paul Chart tried to balance drama and suspense, but he forgot that the film needed a more consistent and strong noir story. Forster is excellent as a gentile psychopath, he decides his luck with a coin, and is capable of make the most atrocious violence, unlike Fairuza Balk, who is clearly terrible as the "sister". American Perfekt is a B- horror flick, with some known names, and it will soon become a cult for few.I recommend Outside Ozona, that has a similar, but better, plot, and also counts with the great Robert Forster.
  • The 1990's were, for a time, a very exciting decade for cinema. Staggering out of the 80's with a coke hangover and indulgence fatigue, we experienced somewhat of a revolution in cinema. What was once ridiculously overblown and self-aggrandising became understated, simplified and strayed from the norm somewhat. We started referencing movies within our movies, we turned our attention to the exploitation cinema of the preceding decades and the film noir of the early half of the 20th century.

    One of the sub-genres which grew substantially in popularity was the road movie. The likes of True Romance (1993), Natural Born Killers (1994), Thelma & Louise (1991) and Kalifornia (1993) popularised the concept of taking the actions out of the city and onto the highways. This gave the movies a sense of freedom and adventure which is of course, the very ideals which America was founded upon. They were, in the most part, pursuit and / or escape movies. The anti-heroes featured were usually on the run from something, be it the law or an unhappy lifestyle.

    Slightly late to the dance was American Perfekt (1997), which features, upon reflection, some fascinating casting choices. Robert Forster, Fairuza Balk, David Thewlis, Amanda Plummer and Paul Sorvino all play their parts magnificently in this almost forgotten slice of oddball Americana.

    Plummer plays Sandra Thomas, a woman who clearly hasn't managed to get her life completely together and who is driving across the desert to meet her sister Alice (Balk) who has absolutely no interest in getting hers together at all. After a near fatal crash, Sandra meets Jake Nyman (Forster) who helps her out as her car is practically totalled.

    After the setup, we are thrust into a world of seedy motels and small town cops, of bar skanks and confidence tricksters (Thewlis is particularly slimy, repuslsive and wonderful in this, however, nothing will ever frighten me as much as his performance in 'Naked'). No one seems particularly trustworthy and this creates a Twin peaks feel to the movie in that it keeps you constantly guessing as to what the motives and true back stories of the characters. It was written and directed by Paul Chart, an artist who has done little else since, but if this is anything to go by, another offering would be graciously received.

    The film spirals into a tense, dusty thriller which has both a charm and a quality that whilst being very much 'of the time', hold up exceptionally well fifteen years later. If you haven't yet had the pleasure of American Perfekt and enjoyed the aforementioned road movies, then this would be a great investment of a few hours.

  • I saw this film in a film festival in Montreal a long time ago and I was amazed at the quality of this film. First of all, the screenplay is well written and the characters are well defined. Furthermore, the way it is shot proves that the director knew what he was doing.

    Unfortunately this film never made it to theater here in Montreal and it is very hard to find. I am surprised to see that such a good movie couldn't get any distribution, but I guess that's the way the system work. So many good films don't make it while so many bad films gets released...

    I hope it will be easier to see it on DVD. I recommend this film to whoever wants to watch an intelligent movie.
  • George Parker28 October 2002
    "American Perfekt" is a lukewarm psychodrama which spends its run time on a four travelers of questionable character bound by circumstance and highway in an arid Nevada desert. A slow starter, the film requires a whole lot of faith to get into and a broad attention span to stick with. However, for viewers who can suspend disbelief at the drop of a body part, "American Perfekt" may prove captivating. An okay no-brainer now on cable. (C)
  • American Perfekt is a disjointed yet darkly compelling little nightmare of a road movie, a dusty ode to bowers of the American southwest left unchecked and decayed, populated by wayward souls with perpetual heat delirium, vixens, psychopaths and hustlers alike, who saunter through lurid story lines that often end in bloodshed and madness. In the vein of stuff like Oliver Stone's U-Turn and Kalifornia, we once again pair up with some extremely off colour characters as they navigate both the tangled web of highways that lace the States as well as the human capacity for greed, lust and heinous physical violence. The characters, and actors for that matter, who populate this stretch of highway are an especially bizarre bunch, starting with Robert Forster's vacationing criminal psychologist Jake Nyman. Forster is quite the unpredictable guy, usually found in calmly benign protagonist roles, yet just as capable of stirring the pot with evil antics. Here's he's opaqueness incarnate, driving from one place to another until he runs into two sisters played by another couple of acting hellcats, Amanda Plummer and Fairuza Balk. Jake is basing each decision of his trip upon the flip of a coin a-lá Harvey Dent, a tactic which simultaneously causes trouble and indicates how unhinged he might really be.

    Plummer is weird and Balk is weirder, but neither as weird as David 'Professor Lupin' Thewlis as an awkwardly placed character who seems to exist just to jump into a scene and throw the mood off kilter. There's others running amok too, including Geoffrey Lewis, as well as Paul Sorvino and Chris Sarandon as a pair of state troopers who serve as comic relief. Forster is scary here, playing a guy who is psychologically hard to pin down or get a read on, and he's got some dynamite scenes with Balk in the third act, the two talents lighting up the frame. It's pretty far south of coherent though, mostly just these freaks terrorizing each other and engaging in puzzling romantic flings that only make sense to them, I suppose. If feverish, borderline abstract, sun-stroked neo noir is your thing, go for it. You can certainly do worse than spend a certifiably bonkers ninety minutes with this terrific bunch of actors.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    A road movie thriller with a good injection of black humour and loads of offbeat characters. The story has a lot of surprises in store, though the experienced viewer might have an inkling or two about several of them. I just like to go see where it goes, and with the terrific acting from the likes of Robert Forster, Amanda Plummer, David Thewlis and Fairuza Balk, this was a hell of a lot of fun.

    Cinematographically, one might say that it is not particularly beautiful or anything, but I love to watch an 'old' '90s DVD much better than loads of all that new digital crap (not to say that there aren't any good movies made anymore, no sir). For this one, we begin at leaving Los Angeles, but most of the characters are from there, in any case leading man psychiatrist Jake Nyman is - what a character; it's an atypical role for Forster to play, but he does a fantastic job!

    9 out of 10.
  • Coen Brothers-wannabe from writer-director Paul Chart relies far too much on ideas lifted from other (better) movies, yet does manage to create a creepy atmosphere that keeps one watching. Robert Forster cuts loose as never before playing a psychopathic psychiatrist (ha ha) who goes on a killing spree in the desert. The film is unusual, but in its attempt to keep one step ahead of the audience it becomes alienating and off-putting (with a role for Amanda Plummer that is downright humiliating). An admittedly bravura finale, many quirky bits of business--and Forster looking great in the nude--make this a curiosity item, nothing more. Veteran movie-director Irvin Kershner produced, and maybe should directed as well (could Paul Chart be a pseudonym?). *1/2 from ****
  • I would like to have all the footage as shot from the start to the finish of American Purfkt. There were many times where the scenes that are not seen beyond the final cut come vividly to my memory .the gas station shot,of the coin that stood up on end after a toss,the true romance on the trip by Amanda and Robert, or when the 9mm fell apart in Chris's hand while the two other were hanging from the rafters,or when the barn burned down and the hurried prep to the new barn across the freeway,or how Ferusa kept loosing her sunglasses in the strangest places, Paul Sorvino's heated anger while viewing my redirected Shot gun clearing of the store . or the dog in the trash can scene or the beer bottle that flew from payroll into the pool parallel to all of us waiting in line,or dolly Dan and Bill Wages slippery seat incident .

    39 days in the Palmdale aria and 6 for the wrap. I miss them all.Included were the pooI side chats with Ivan .I last met him at the Russian knights film festival.. If you look real hard you may have a quick glimpse of me in the barn. I would have gave more to the vote If the edit was a little different and that the scenes shot that were not included over the top cop chase scenes with Paul Sorvino.
  • jerry_dean6726 August 2000
    I enjoy watching Robert Forster. That was the main reason that I rented this movie. I also wanted to see a story take place out in the middle of nowhere where the characters could work off of each other really well with no distractions.

    Unfortunitaly I found the movie to be dull. I couldn't get interested in the characters. I couldn't get interested in the story which seemed to meander nowhere.

    After watching this movie for an hour I turned it off. I will rate the movie 4 out of 10. This falls well below the mandatory 7 rating that makes a movie worthwhile to watch.
  • With zero likable characters, and a contrived storyline, "American Perfekt" is a film that is easy to hate. Common sense is thrown out the window as scene after scene insults the audience's intelligence. Just when I thought that I had seen my share of annoying actors, along comes Fairuza Balk, appearing as the whiny heroine. Do not be tempted to watch this thinking it might be a clever desert noir, because it is nothing more than another Tarantino crap fest, only without Tarantino. In other words it throws curve balls at the audience trying to be clever, but is anything but. Beware, and avoid this, unless you think audience manipulation is entertainment. - MERK
  • American Perfekt stars the "Lovely" Fairuza Balk (Almost Famous, Return To Oz), hitch-hiking to find her sister.

    The film is not much good and all the actors and actresses are wooden (just like a stick, which would be a suitable replacement), Fairuza Balk is superb!

    A Film Of Chances and percentage, apart from balk there is 0% chance anything in it is worth seeing, For Fairuza fans and people who have watched all their other videos.

    Balk Rules, Film Stinks/** out of ****
  • I would love to be able to find the left out footage from certain scenes filmed in my grandmothers house for this movie. The DVD does not have them and this would be really great if I can get them. Great movie love Amanda in all her films!

    Crazy film from beginning to end and having it so close to my home area was so interesting. Loved it and if you like weird you should watch it.

    Robert Forster was great and some of what he played in shocked me. He is a really nice man to give you a autographed picture for my mom who just loved him.

    I personally was to shy to go out and meet Amanda but loved watching all the filming.
  • Fate is what this movie is about. You got a fine cast of actors in this movie, the results are really moderate. Amanda Plummer plays Saundra, a disillusioned pro who happens to have a fiasco with her car. A huge station wagon blocks her path when she leaves a diner, the driver turns out to be an entertain tries to give her back her lighter that half-works. Robert Forster plays Jake, a shrink who's kinda superstitious. He has a silver coin that seals his fate. David Thewlis plays Santini, a traveling performer with a shady past. All three go into a cheap motel where a murder later on takes places. Fairuza Balk plays Alice, a strung out woman who is searching for her sister, Saundra. When you get all into one place, the results are explosive. To me, this movie is rather common than exciting, though it's not boring, it just needs to get to understand the story better. 2 out of 5 stars
  • BDoyle-86 January 2009
    Tarantino has something to do with this, I just can't figure out what. Like Natural Born Killers.... you know it was Quentin, but not a word if you look up the film. Later it comes out he wrote it. Same thing here. The plot, the actors, the mysterious revelations.... Tarantino is related to this somehow.

    Need 10 lines of text so here's #6.................................. Need 10 lines of text so here's #7...................................... Need 10 lines of text so here's #8.................................... Need 10 lines of text so here's #9..................................... What a dumb requirement.................................................
  • Warning: Spoilers
    A bleak defeat for continuity. There is a car chase at the end of this movie - Paul Sorvino drives a police car. Any promise this movie may have shown up to this point DISAPPEARS as we notice Paul is driving TWO COMPLETELY different police cars from shot to shot. One police car has the "bar" style police lights across the roof. The other police car has five small police lights arranged in a V formation on the car roof. Sorvino turns the corner in one car, emerges onto the road in another. Over and over. It drove me crazy. Way to go, film crew. What a fantastic way to throw a year of your life and thousands of production dollars in the garbage.