Saturday 18 February 2023

Movie Review: The Mean Season (1985)

Genre: Serial Killer Drama Thriller
Director: Phillip Borsos
Starring: Kurt Russell, Mariel Hemingway, Andy Garcia, Richard Jordan, Richard Masur
Running Time: 103 Minutes

Synopsis: In Miami, newspaper reporter Malcolm Anderson (Kurt Russell) is on the edge of burnout, and promises his girlfriend Christine (Mariel Hemingway) that they will move to a quieter life in Colorado. But when Malcolm starts covering a murder case, the serial killer decides to use him as a mouthpiece. The murders accelerate and Malcolm receives regular taunting phone calls, forcing him to work with Detective Ray Martinez (Andy Garcia) and straining his personal life.

What Works Well: The adaptation of a John Katzenbach novel digs into the dilemma of a reporter thrust into the spotlight of a murder investigation. Disbelief is followed by a journalist's euphoria, but then Anderson wanders too close to the fire and starts to understand the perils of communicating with a maniac. Kurt Russell owns an intense transition from burnout to story-of-a-lifetime, and director Phillip Borsos makes good use of the Miami locations.

What Does Not Work As Well: Apart from a motive of desperately seeking notoriety, the killer is a poorly drawn shadow of a character. The police investigation never gains traction, and the third act degenerates into a couple of clumsy showdowns. Mariel Hemingway struggles mightily as the badly written girlfriend.

Conclusion: Without achieving headline status, The Mean Season is a middling mix of media and menace.

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