Sissy Hankshaw (Uma Thurman) is born with enormous thumbs that help her hitchhiking through the U.S. from a young age. She becomes a model in advertising, and her New York agent, "the ...
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Sissy Hankshaw (Uma Thurman) is born with enormous thumbs that help her hitchhiking through the U.S. from a young age. She becomes a model in advertising, and her New York agent, "the Countess" (Sir John Hurt), sends her to his ranch in California to shoot a commercial, set against the background of mating whooping cranes. There, she befriends Bonanza Jellybean (Rain Phoenix), one of the cowgirls at the beauty ranch. The cowgirls take command of the ranch from the Countess and drug the cranes with peyote. The Police besiege the ranch.Written by
Pieter van Scherpenberg <email@example.com>
At the beginning, lot of stars rise in the sky. One, aside and slower than the others, writes the words "For River". [River Phoenix] See more »
Gus Van Sant's original version was first shown at the Toronto Film Festival in 1993 before the film was pulled at his own request and reworked. The most significant differences are described in a N.Y.Times article from May 15 1994: "The New York scenes, and Sissy's relationship with an urbanized Mohawk Indian (played by Keanu Reeves), were cut back in the interest of beefing up the ranch scenes and focusing more attention on the relationship between Sissy and Bonanza Jellybean, a straight-shooting cowgirl played by Rain Phoenix. The novelist William Burroughs survived the editing. Audiences will see him cross a Manhattan street, look at the traffic and utter three syllables: "Ominous." Roseanne Arnold, however, will see her cameo as a gypsy fortuneteller whittled down to a mini-cameo. Most dramatically, Mr. Van Sant shed an entire subplot, about the mysterious Clock People, keepers of the keys to cosmic consciousness, and the source of the original film's final image (as well as the clock on the paperback cover). In the first version, Sissy became pregnant after making love to the Chink, a loony visionary played by Pat Morita, who tells her she will bear a race of large-thumbed children who will roam the earth in love and peace after surviving an apocalypse. In the final frames of "Cowgirls I," Sissy's child, seen in the womb, makes hitchhiking gestures toward the audience, an invitation to the future." Van Sant is quoted in the article, that he doesn't know which version is better. See more »
Uma Thurman plays Sissy, a young woman with a gypsy spirit (and freakishly large thumbs) who hitchhikes cross-country, eventually finding her true place amongst a group of peyote-enlightened cowgirls on a ranch devoted to preserving the Whooping Crane; Rain(bow) Phoenix is their lesbian leader, Bonanza Jellybean, who falls in love with Sissy, thumbs or not. Gus Van Sant directed and adapted Tom Robbins' book, but his satire has no primary target and just skitters all over the map, like Sissy (maybe that was his goal, but it's not involving for an audience). Notorious box-office flop wasn't so much panned as it was ignored, and one can see why: it's a series of sketches in search of a plot, and the performances, directorial touches and cinematography are all variable. Thurman is a stitch posing alongside the highway trying to get a ride, but this pretty much put the kibosh on Phoenix's career. Writer Buck Henry (who didn't write this, but perhaps should have) gives the most assured performance as the doctor who works on one of those thumbs.
Two thumbs down.
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