American Perfekt Review

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A psycho physician, who decides his actions on the flip of a coin, crosses paths with a young woman travelling through the desert on her way to meet her sister.


Shot before Forster's career-resurrecting role as Max Cherry in Jackie Brown, American Perfekt finds the suavely crinkled actor portraying exactly the sort of dark-hearted character that might follow a Tarantino credit.

In the Mojave Desert, Sandra Thompson (Plummer), en route to meet her sister Alice (Balk) is struck by two cars in as many minutes: an olive-green station wagon that hits and runs; then a black Jaguar driven by physician Jake Nyman (Forster). After a near-instant attraction, Nyman offers to drive Sandra to the nearest town. Cue reams of heavy-handed dialogue on the dark nature of fate, mostly by Forster, tossing a silver dollar to decide the duo's next moves. Later the pair are forced to accept a lift in (hey!) an olive-green station wagon, driven by con man Ernest Santini (Thewlis), played to full comedic effect in an industrial strength cockney accent. But following a night of passion between our two main protagonists, Sandra disappears. Nyman fulfils the rendezvous with the wildcard Alice, who is unaware that the doc has just spent a little more than simply quality time with her sister. But is he or Santini responsible for her disappearance?

What follows are the by-numbers twists and turns of a less-than-thrilling psychological thriller, underpinned by endless symbolism intended to highlight the twisted forces of fate. Aside from a hugely commendable Thewlis, all concerned play to type: Plummer cuts her kooky character from the same template she used for The Fisher King; Sorvino all but phones in his laconic sheriff; Balk is both alluring and tough as the hitch-hiking sister, whereas Forster struggles to summon up menace.

American Perkect's tagline reads: "There is no escape from destiny." Within the the arthousey road movie formula, it seems, sometimes there is no escape from predictability.