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cast: Yaphet Kotto, Andrew Duggan, Joyce Van Patten, and Jeannie Berlin

writer and director: Larry Cohen

95 minutes (18) 1972 widescreen ratio 1.85:1
Anchor Bay UK DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 8/10
reviewed by Debbie Moon
It's the 1970s, and in Beverly Hills, a wealthy couple's poolside bliss is disturbed when they find a rat stuck in the pool drain. However, they soon have bigger problems than that. A young black man appears in the garden, takes them hostage and demands money. The husband is dispatched to the bank, with a limited time to fetch cash to save his wife. But all is not well under the perfect surface of their marriage, and when he doesn't come back, the resulting violence shatters their illusions of living the American dream...

The plot of this dreamlike, heavily allegorical movie is hard to summarise, and too good to give away. With the intensity of a chamber theatre piece, revolving entirely around the three central characters, Bone (aka: Dial Rat) dissects the surface prosperity of 1970s' America and excavates the dark secrets below. Neither the big house, expensive lifestyle, or the proudly trumpeted fact of their son's military service in Vietnam is quite what it seems, and in realising their own self-delusion, the couple expose the hollowness of their whole society.

Andrew Duggan and Joyce Van Patten are terrific as the brittle, bickering couple, incapable even of dealing with a rat in the swimming pool, let alone an incursion from an America they hardly know exists. Yaphet Kotto delivers a typically powerful performance; his jive-talking maniac may seem an uncomfortably obvious metaphor, but given the nature of the film, it's entirely probable that the couple have dreamed him up out of their own garbled fears anyway...

The targets may be a little obvious, the conclusions a little simplistic, but as a personal story of unravelling lives, Bone succeeds wonderfully. A forgotten gem from a forgotten era of political filmmaking that's well worth a look.

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