A Small Town Showing
Sonny (Timothy Bottoms) and Duane (Jeff Bridges) are best friends, going to High School together in a small Texas town which offers them and others their age little to do and little in the way of prospects. For Duane his time is taken up with dating Jacy (Cybill Shepherd), the local beauty from a wealthy family who don't think much of Duane whilst Sonny ends up having an affair with Ruth (Cloris Leachman), the wife of the school's basketball coach. With graduation edging ever nearer Duane contemplates whether the army will offer him a way to escape the town whilst Sonny finds himself inheriting a local business from Sam the Lion (Ben Johnson).
Timothy Bottoms, Jeff Bridges and Cybill Shepherd were all young actors back in 1971 when "The Last Picture Show" was released yet their performances were those of seasoned professionals who knew how to be people on the screen rather than showing they were acting. It is for me one of the plus points when it comes to "The Last Picture Show" and another is Peter Bogdanovich's decision to shoot in black & white which not only gives this a look of a 50s movie but also highlights the bleakness of life in this Texas town with nothing to do.
But whilst I can appreciate certain aspects of "The Last Picture Show" the movie is not for me because I am unable to connect with a single aspect of it. But that is how it is with coming of age movies as they tend to speak to a generation and "The Last Picture Show" is no different. As such whilst we have this complete storyline which features young relationships, affairs, betrayal as well as fights and parental issues if you are unable to associate yourself with any of the characters, their situations and so on it becomes a flat experience.
What this all boils down to is that "The Last Picture Show" is not for me as it is a coming of age movie which speaks to a generation. But from the completeness of the story, the characters, the artistic choices and so on certainly make it a cut above most coming of age movies.