Five Corners (1988)

Five Corners (1988)

Taglines: Two days can last a lifetime.

Quirky comedy, intense drama, and warm nostalgia are all combined in this eccentric look at one night in 1964 amongst the residents of the Five Corners neighborhood of the Bronx.

The bulk of the film concerns Linda (Jodie Foster), a young woman who finds herself stalked by a disturbed rapist fresh out of prison. Needing protection, she turns to her formerly tough ex-boyfriend, only to discover that a recent political awakening has transformed him into a pacifist. The tension of Linda’s situation is leavened by the film’s attention to its bizarre subplots, which include a stolen penguin, partying teenagers who encounter trouble with an elevator, and a pair of detectives investigating a series of mysterious bow-and-arrow attacks.

The script by John Patrick Shanley, who won the 1987 Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for Moonstruck, manages to (for the most part) bring these seemingly unrelated stories together into a fairly logical conclusion. Even though numerous critics felt that Five Corners’ mixture of widely disparate tones was not completely successful, the end result is a surprisingly charming and unique tribute to a time and a place.

Five Corners is a 1987 American low budget crime drama film starring Tim Robbins, Jodie Foster, John Turturro, and Rodney Harvey. It was directed by Tony Bill. It depicts 48 hours in the lives of a group of young New Yorkers in the 1960s.

Five Corners (1988)

Film Review for Five Corners

”Five Corners,” is about coming of age in the Bronx in the autumn of 1964, when student activists were listening to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., young women were still doing their darnedest to look like Jacqueline Kennedy and glue-sniffing was an acceptable way to attain a high.

Directed by Tony Bill, the film is based on John Patrick Shanley’s first screenplay. Mr. Shanley’s second screenplay serves as the basis for Norman Jewison’s slickly homogenized current hit, ”Moonstruck.” This is worth noting, for although ”Five Corners” often strains credulity (and patience), it almost always seems far more authentic than the saga of the lovelorn Cher in ”Moonstruck.”

The ”Five Corners” screenplay is both overstuffed and underdeveloped. Mr. Bill’s direction doesn’t iron out unsightly bumps, but neither does it mute the voice of what often sounds to be a strong and original new screenwriter.

Five Corners (1988) - Jodie Foster

In a period of approximately 24 hours, ”Five Corners” tells the stories of Linda (Jodie Foster), her sometime boyfriend James (Todd Graff) and Harry (Tim Robbins), who’s about to go off to register voters in Mississippi. Their comparatively placid lives are thrown into chaos with the arrival back in the neighborhood of Heinz (John Turturro), a young psychotic who has been serving time for the attempted rape of Linda.

Mr. Shanley and Mr. Bill set their scene and introduce the characters with a good deal of humor and insight. There’s a very funny early sequence in which a bored neighborhood Romeo pays two strangers five bucks to take his girlfriends off his hands. The movie hits just the proper note of comedy mixed with melodrama when two couples find themselves trapped, possibly fatally, in an elevator shaft.

It’s not the elevator that finally does in the characters, but the mechanics of the plot, which, to keep things moving, demands that halfway intelligent people suddenly behave as if they’d lost their minds.

With the exception of Mr. Turturro and Rose Gregorio, who plays Heinz’s equally demented mom, nobody in the otherwise excellent cast seems at home with his Bronx accent. Each speaks as if holding onto a tiger’s tail with his teeth, which isn’t easy. Miss Foster, more beautiful today than ever, doesn’t look especially at home in her plain wash dresses, but the performance is a good one.

Equally intelligent are Mr. Graff, Mr. Robbins and Elizabeth Berridge, as a bubble-headed glue-sniffer who longs to settle down with a wedding ring and a husband. In their own separate category are Mr. Turturro and Miss Gregorio, who give ”Five Corners” a larger-than-life, melodramatic dimension that ultimately makes the rest of the movie look small.

Five Corners Movie Poster (1988)

Five Corners (1988)

Directed by: Tony Bill
Starring: Jodie Foster, Tim Robbins, Todd Graff, John Turturro, Michael R. Howard, Pierre Epstein, Elizabeth Berridge, Cathryn de Prume, Kathleen Chalfant
Screenplay by: John Patrick Shanley
Production Design by: Adrianne Lobel
Cinematography by: Fred Murphy
Film Editing by: Andy Blumenthal
Costume Design by: Peggy Farrell
Set Decoration by: Linda Ekstrand
Music by: James Newton Howard
Distributed by: Cineplex Odeon Films
Release Date: January 22, 1988