Friday, July 10, 2020

Normal Life

The opening moments of John McNaughton's Normal Life take the viewer through the average American small town. Suburbs, strip malls, the like. Then we see Chris (Luke Perry) and Pam Anderson (Ashley Judd) get swarmed by police cars, and that's when the mayhem unfolds.

We then cut back two years to when Chris and Pam first met. Almost immediately, the quiet Chris is drawn to the volatile Pam but it quickly becomes clear that Pam is nigh-unpredictable, which causes concern to those close to Chris. But their happiness (and finances) quickly dwindle after getting married, and Chris takes drastic measures to fix this.

Being based on real events (albeit with changed names), Normal Life was a stark contrast to what audiences knew Perry from. (Test audiences were expecting something more like Beverly Hills, 90210 but got something else entirely; what else would you expect from the man responsible for Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer?) And Perry more than proved himself beyond his Dylan McKay image. It's a shame he passed away last year; he had more to offer.

Similarly, it's frustrating to watch Judd here with the knowledge that her career would suffer a setback "thanks" to Harvey Weinstein (the following year, no less!). But even with that in mind, she's dynamite in this. Like she would in Bug the following decade, she's unafraid to take on such a role.

Normal Life is a damn good picture, the kind you don't really see made much nowadays. (What has McNaughton been up to lately?) Sure, it might've gotten lost in the shadow of Wild Things two years later but that shouldn't discourage you from seeking this out.

My Rating: ****1/2

1 comment:

  1. I remember first seeing it on HBO and thought "what a damn good movie" and I was 15 when it premiered on HBO and it's still a gem that I feel more people need to see. Plus, it showed that Luke Perry had so much more to offer as an actor and he and Ashley Judd were just great together.


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