Little Boy Blue (1997) Poster

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Haunting family study and mystery
Mike S-316 March 1999
Little Boy Blue is a difficult-to-review dichotomy of a movie. It continually pairs brilliant film-making with portions that one would expect from a straight-to-video release.

The movie starts off quickly establishing its heavy sexual content and unusual family relationships. The alcoholic, Vietnam veteran father played by John Savage is a fierce, detestable character meant to be feared by all but his inexplicably devoted wife played by Kinski (what does she see in him?). Savage's character is effective but could have given us more understanding of why he became who he is.

Savage spares no family member his brutality and cruelty. Oldest son Jimmy (Ryan Phillippe) receives even more denigration than his two younger brothers. The tension as Savage and Phillippe both realize that Jimmy's now reaching the age where he may be able to stand up to Savage and therefore threaten his dominance over the family is brilliantly played.

Phillippe's performance is light-years past any of his others. He steals the movie with his torn-character-- wanting to escape his hellish father, but fearing what will happen to his mother and even more so his two young brothers if he leaves. This debate is layered even more into his relationship with his girlfriend and the possibility of leaving for college with his great baseball talent.

Jimmy's desperate need for love and yet difficulty of being able to love after his nightmarish upbringing makes for captivating viewing. In one sense, though, he has already found it in the wonderfully-shown love he has for his two brothers. It is one of the most tender brother relationships one will find on the screen and clearly the heart of the entire movie.

The mystery and plot-turns are much more hit-and-miss than the relationships. Some are well-conceived and timely unveiled, but others make one scratch his head and wonder what was the point of that? One wonders if too much was left on the cutting room floor or if the movie was dumped into video stores with little thought.

Such instances include the dramatic recognition by the mail-carrier of the police patrolman that leads to ... nothing. In fact, the mail-carrier's role seems to be too large for such little payoff. And what is the point of the forced-statements at gunpoint by Mrs. Knight?

Overall, the role of the police in the movie is the least-developed. Various implications are made in vague, unfulfilled ways. Are the police attempting a cover-up or are they simply negligent in their investigation? And why all the time spent on Nate Carr's attempt to get in on more action at the police department?

Little Boy Blue has more flaws than one would like, but it so perfectly handles the complicated relationships at the center of the story that you can't help but love this movie. It will at once move you to tears of sorrow, fits of empathetic anger, and hopes of peaceful love.

A warning, though; this movie is full of sex and is worse in that regard than most R-movies. However, this is central to the plot and not superfluous.

Here is the irony: many go to see Phillippe's body in cheaper, low-brow movies. They will likely miss this one-- which surely shows more of Phillippe than any of his others-- but which for the first time shows the possibility of a coming actor. And, in at least my opinion, finally puts Phillippe in a quality movie-- one you won't soon forget.

Rating:8
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Blue Boy Comes Of Age
jess-1210 August 2000
A boy named Jimmy West (Phillippe), who longs for a better life, learns some harsh realities about his existence. After years of dealing with an abusive and sexually disturbed "father" (Savage) and being protector to his "mother" (Kinski) and younger brothers, he is given a chance by his wealthy girlfriend to get away. The only problem is, guilt, love and fear for his family makes him stay. Upon realizing Jimmy is growing up and has been snooping around where he shouldn't, his father decides its time to reveal some startling news to him. The shocking news makes Jimmy more desperate than ever to tear himself and his family away from his father before something worse happens. At the same time, a woman named Doris (Knight) appears in town, and she reveals to the police why she is searching for the West family. The police lend their help, but she ultimately takes matters into her own hands when she shows up at the West's trailer. The ending is not at all what one would expect and many questions are left unanswered, leaving the viewer wishing for more explanation.

I was sorry to see that this movie was not highly publicized because I thought the acting was intense by all. Having forgotten that I first saw Phillippe (along with John Savage) in "White Squall", this was really the first time I saw him in a leading role and, might I say, what a performer he is. As for Savage and Kinski, one of the reasons I watched this movie was to see them together again as I had enjoyed them so much in "Maria's Lovers". It was nice to see the chemistry still there. Admittedly, some of the sex scenes are a bit harsh and you need to see this movie more than once to really understand it, but don't let that stop you from seeing it at all.
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8/10
A surprisingly complex, well-written, and well-acted drama.
Everwas24 February 2001
The primary problem with most non-mainstream films is that they fail to adhere to some of the basic cinematic elements that make films work. True, they are often interesting and provocative, but they fail in the larger sense that the film itself (not just the subject matter or content) fails to succeed for viewers.

That is not the case with "Little Boy Blue." For once, a novel premise and provocative content combine in a well-written screenplay that leaves the viewer fulfilled instead of disappointed. This film far exceeded my expectations in all areas, including the believable yet powerful acting in all of the major characters.

My major problem with the film was that the early part of the film didn't deal with (or even allude to) the overriding premise that really comes to light in the final third of the film. Additionally, the Doris Knight characterization seemed a bit unstable and her motivation in the final scenes is hard to pin down.

Still, a highly recommended film.
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8/10
Pretty impressive movie.
Streetwolf9 November 2002
Warning: Spoilers
This movie is for the adult audience, the actors do a wonderful job portraying each role, I do wish it was a little longer, but it was well thought out and very good.

The beginning of the movie is shown to the very end, where a couple in the 70's are heading towards Texas with their baby, and they unfortunately end up picking up a soldier on his way home.

Summary: The seemingly normal couple Ray and Kate West live in the outback somewhere in Texas with their 3 sons, the adult son Jimmy is a great baseball player, but doesn't seem to want to do anything in his life except be around the younger boys, who he is extremely protective over. As the movie progresses we see that there are plenty of secrets hidden within the family when Jimmy is forced to have sex with Kate at gunpoint by Ray.

At first the impression I got of the movie was that Jimmy would no doubt kill his father one day for putting him through that form of incest, but as the movie continued it started to make more sense that it wasn't entirely incest, but more a very disfunctional family who suffer from Ray's war "wounds" and are paying the price of what he had gone through.

Ryan Phillippe does a superb performance as Jimmy, the tortured and hurt young man, who wants to be with his girlfriend, but has deeper issues concerning his family. John Savage, again another excellent performance, after seeing him in Dark Angel I must admit the bad guy routine really suits him, but I wasn't really fond of Natassja Kinski's acting and character. She still ends up being the devoted wife, who loves her husband even though he puts her through hell. How weak. The younger cast, the two sons were great, really good acting!

I'd give this movie a fair 8/10 with a question mark, being we live in this day and age wouldn't a mother try to protect her sons even if it means leaving her husband? (Or shooting him? Hello?? He has a gun in the house, doesn't anyone else know how to use one?!)
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8/10
Modern day Southern Gothic
blueapples24 September 2006
This is one of those Southern Gothic flicks involving family secrets in a small town with characters and events that make your skin crawl, yet you just can't stop watching. About halfway through you'll think you've got it all figured out but one or two of the revelations towards the end will probably take you by surprise.

Ryan Phillippe does an outstanding job, showing that even early in his career he was more than a pretty face, as does Nastassja Kinski, who I guess also shows she was more than a pretty face. (As for John Savage, he can probably phone in this kind of role by now.) One quirky aspect of the script is that various characters will be just about to learn something important when the scene will cut away .. leaving you, the viewer, in the dark. It comes dangerously close to being an annoyance, but the upside is that this allows the final act to spring its surprises all the more effectively.

I appreciated that the ending was more hopeful than I'd expected, partly because I thought I'd figured things out but was proved wrong. Had this been directed by someone like David Lynch it would probably have been a masterpiece. Nonetheless, even if it doesn't rise to that level it is certainly a film that holds your attention and keeps you guessing until the end. More than a "B movie" .. maybe a B+.
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10/10
Dark, Disturbing, & Strangely Haunting
marks-245 October 2001
If you're in the mood for lighthearted escapism you've got the wrong flick. If on the other hand you'd like to be entertained with a great dark/disturbing story with plot twists that are done in very original ways, "Little Boy Blue" will more than satisfy!

Everyone in this picture did a superb job and I do mean everyone, writers, directors, music, lighting, sets, etc. Ryan Phillippe does more than hold his own in this dark tale in fact he shines!

This is a disturbingly haunting movie that I've watched several times, and I don't do that often. So, if you like your entertainment on the gritty side of reality snag this one for your library.
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9/10
Like it or not, you'll remember it
paranoidcentral13 July 2002
Little Boy Blue had me transfixed the entire time, wondering about this and that, and the final climax is startling and surprising. You think you've got it figured out, but then something (rather, someone) comes along and everything gets turned upside down.

I watched this three days ago and still can't get it out of my head. It was, as far as I can remember, the most disturbing movie I've ever watched and when I started doing some math in my head the next day, I got very, very queasy. I think this film was well acted and well made, even though certain things could have been improved. When the movie finishes you might get caught, like me, stuck between wanting to watch it again with a fresh perspective and being too hesitant to re-watch some of those scenes.

John Savage is convincing in his role as the father, you try (it's not a big effort, but it's there) not to sympathize with him and I feel you'll succeed since he is one twisted fellow. Ryan Phillippe is the title character and the story's center, but he doesn't have as much to say, it seems, as other characters. He perfects the role, though, he does an excellent and very truthful job of it. The mother, well, I disagree with the actress' portrayal of her, but I understand it. I think it should have been different, though. You sympathize with her too much and when the movie's over with and you start 'doing the math', like me, you might be left feeling quite a bit less sympathetic. Oh, and the two boys do a fantastic acting job. Those are some good child actors there. The plot is full of twists and keeps you hooked, but it does drag on a little if you're convinced you know what's going on and there's no surprise or point in watching other than to be wigged out. Believe me, it pays off. But you won't be able to figure out what's what until it's over, and then you still might be wondering about certain motivations, and well, numbers.

It isn't for the faint of heart. My mother, I know, would have a heart attack if she watched it. I recomend it, if you've got a strong stomach and a bit of patience. It's worth watching twice (kind of like The Sixth Sense, how the movie is in a new light on the second viewing), it'll have your wheels spinning. If anything can be said about it...it's unique, original and interesting...and certainly affecting.
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Powerful, disturbing modern Gothic
Melville-43 December 1998
This "sleeper" is a masterfully done, complex drama. The story unfolds slowly at first, and the relationships among the characters remain somewhat ambiguous during the first part of the movie. However, once the plot starts to unravel, the film becomes a compelling mystery, revealing only hints of the true horror that propels the action. This is probably Phillippe's best work as an actor; he is given the chance to act--and not simply stand around and look pretty--and he is quite good. Savage and Kinski also deliver powerful performances. You'll probably have no trouble finding this one at the video store, since it didn't get much publicity. But it's definitely worth watching.
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10/10
Takes one's breath away! Original & Heartfelt.
AdaDee25 January 2000
A real cinematic gem that unfortunately got little notice. Start with a total evolving original story by the writer, a director not afraid of hurting his chances with a big studio film and portrayals by John Savage & Ryan Phillippe, and this film adds up to one movie one might find hard to forget nor would one want to. "Little Boy Blue" blows the lid off of conventional story ideas and keeps one on the edge of their seats. It's unpredictable, scary, even funny at times but oh-so rewarding. It's kinda like "Blue Velvet", "The Great Santini" and that tv movie "Something About Amelia" from many years ago. I recommend it not only once as a rental but maybe two or three times because each viewing seems to show you a little something extra to put the pieces together in this suspenseful drama. I still can't believe hardly no one's heard of it in this day and age. I recommended it always to friends. Note: It has a couple of young characters but it's not for l
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7/10
D'accord. "Powerful and disturbing Gothic" is right.
Grand9 December 1998
We were still talking about this three days after seeing it. So many questions are left unanswered that it is easy to see why studio executives chickened out and didn't hype this as a major theatrical release: they probably decided that Little Boy Blue it is too challenging to the "lowest common denominator" mindset which THEY have created among American movie-goers.

One wonders if Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds would have been released by an American studio nowadays; we think probably not -- some idiot would think that American audiences wouldn't understand, appreciate or care to see a movie which leaves ANY questions unanswered at the end, let alone one which leaves open as many questions as does Little Boy Blue.

Bah! Make a challenging movie and the audience will rise to meet the challenge. Little Boy Blue surely ranks among the most intellectually challenging movies of all time; decades from now film students will probably be writing dissertations about the cryptic symbolism of the book kept in the clothesline pole or the name of Jimmy's dog! This is not to suggest that the movie is an all-time great, but it certainly works on many more levels than that of Ryan Phillippe humping someone in the station wagon.

A Ryan Phillippe movie which forces the viewer to think! No wonder he found it so challenging: directors have had him playing blond pretty boys for so long that he probably had a difficult time portraying a character who is as savvy and insightful as he himself is in real life.
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7/10
Unsettling Family Squabbles, Teen Angst, Surprisingly Gripping
museumofdave27 February 2013
This fascinatingly dark film is a minor gem, teetering on the edge of film noir, a grim tale about a family with more secrets than a sixth grade school kid; as part of the set up, the viewer is lured into thinking this a simple teen angst film, with unhappy. misunderstood Ryan Phillippe gloomy, moody and in need of a girlfriend; close attention, however, reveals much more going on with his dysfunctional family than first appears, with more than one twisted secret to be uncovered--and one is a stunner! Incredibly vivid photography captures the seedy side of trashy lifestyles, a local bar not unlike a joint from Twin Peaks, the squalid insides of unkempt trailers and the edge of a scummy country pond where the kids play; all the actors are especially committed, and two young actors bond in amazingly vivid ways with older brother Jimmy (Phillippe)--this odd film not what one expects, but it delivers some creepy answers to the title's choice: Little Boy Blue.
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9/10
One of the best movies I have seen lately...
wannes4812 October 2012
Warning: Spoilers
This is a very strong movie. I just watched it for the second time. It is suspenseful, there are strong emotions, it is one of the strongest and best movies I have seen lately.

This isn't just a movie, it could be reality. There are some really sick people out there...

All of the actors do a very, very good job and, indeed, Ryan Phillippe is extraordinary.

I also liked the two young kids a lot. They are real, they are very believable.

I'm still impressed, I can't really express my emotions, but I wanted to share that this movie is really worth your time.
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Surprisingly well-crafted: highly recommended!
Renaldo Matlin18 April 1999
Evocative drama deals with some touchy subjects while barely scratching the surface and therefore demanding that the viewer actually think for themselves. Complete with some intriguing characters, thanks to great storytelling and good acting, this has a realistic feel to it. Almost like a generation X "Lone Star" this movie deserved way better attention than it got.
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an intelligent film
beanjean31 March 1999
I must admit that I am not a real big fan of Ryan Phillippe, but he really surprised me in this film. Instead of just standing there, looking pretty, he was allowed to *GASP!* act! Phillippe did a convincing job, too, as did all the other cast members (even down to the young children).

This movie had many plot twists, which was thoroughly enjoyable. It wasn't easy to figure out. The end leaves you hanging, causing you to think about what happens. It is quite an intelligent film, and I would definitely recommend seeing it.
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Strong drama about controversial subject matter
koop-228 February 1999
Little Boy Blue is a drama set in a small town in southern USA. You will recognize the landscape and the usual sleazy bar. But there it'll stop.

It the center of the story stands Jimmy who is going to move away from his father he doesn't get along with (and even doesn't know.), his mother that he's very attached to. And his two younger brothers that he's in many ways a guardian to.

That are really good performances in this film, not only from the three leads. Jimmy's brothers are very impressive, I think it's quite unusual to see child actors in American films to act this natural.

It's really nice to have Nastassja Kinski back as a big name again, so she can show what a talented actress she is.

John Savage, who's career in many ways is reminiscent of Kinski's, does a performance somewhere between Marlon Brando and Gary Busey.

(Note: Kinski and Savage also acted together in _Maria's Lovers (1984_(qv).)
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Intense! Well done!
Prescott-21 February 1999
A brilliant job of tying together a complicated group of characters. Ryan Phillippe was brilliant and for his age shows great talent. The approach to each and every delicate situation was handled with tact and tastefully clarified at just the right moment.
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8/10
Very good; disturbing; some excellent performances;some not.
UncleBob-414 December 1998
A few directorial and editing touches could have made this even better than it is. Some of the acting is a little weak, but the performances for the most part are excellent. The story takes a little too long to gel, but it's worth it. Unusual subject matter, with a "gothic" twist. Ryan Phillippe is very good as the "Boy" of the title. John Savage plays a difficult character, and the plot unfolds gradually - sometimes too much so. But overall this is a very good film for one that never showed in the theaters.
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9/10
Indeed An Under-Rated Movie
Jalea8 April 2002
Warning: Spoilers
I like movies that makes you think. And Little Boy Blue is definitely one of those movies. It is a movie in which nothing is as it seems. Just when you think you have some idea of what is going on, the plot thickens and you start wondering some more. The relationships in this family is not normal, yet, you are not prepared for what is revealed near the end of the movie. There is a major plot twist that will leave you stunned. In the end many things are explained and whatever is unexplained is left to the imagination. You will have to watch closely otherwise you will miss some things that help you understand what is going on. This movie has some heart breaking moments in it. It is definitely worth watching because it is thought provoking.
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7/10
Cool!
JThomas-222 December 1999
This movie is not Hitchcock, but it is really good filmmaking. I loved the twist at the end and the acting was really well done - not great - but well done. Ryan Phillipe is really talented and I thought he gave a very good performance, in a difficult role. I have recommended this film to many of my friends.
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9/10
Faultless almost to a fault.
dewey2211 December 1999
This is a very much underrated movie. It held my attention from start to finish. Initially all kinds of questions are raised which slowly are answered as the story progresses. Excellent casting, directing, editing, filming, and acting by all performers. Should have had several Academy Award nominations.
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The Most Amazing-Underrated Film Ever
PeterPie31 August 1999
I am a huge fan of Ryan Phillippe. He has been my idol for forever (visit my website on him: http://www.geocities.com/Hollywood/Movie/7977) Anyway, I was in Suncoast one day and it was on sale, so I decided to buy it and check it out. It was the best choice of my film-oriented life. It is such an amazing film. It captures modern-society so well, its frightening. Everyone gives amazing performances. At times disturbing, but realistic. The realism is what is the scariest part about it. Everyone says that about "Blair Witch", but come on, who HONESTLY liked it. If you find this video in the store, buy it or rent it. You will not regret it.

P.S.- This movie is a very shocking and disturbing movie. It is aimed at an adult audience.
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8/10
Excellent gothic trailer trash
Sailbart15 August 1999
Excellent movie, and though disturbing, is a finely wrought tale of complex human relationships in Texas. The acting is very good and the story is multilayered with a sharp twist. Amazing that this movie didn't get more buzz.
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Good Job Ryan
TVGirl14 May 1999
Pretty good film. Definitely keeps your attention even if most of it is pretty disturbing. Phillipe, one of my favorite actors, does a great job. Kinski looks too good to be a trailer parker though. But I guess if the people didn't look good in this film it would be pretty unbearable to watch. I mean, who wants to see ugly people living in extreme dysfunction?
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7/10
Texas Gothic
Lechuguilla27 January 2011
Although interesting in retrospect, the film is made confusing in the first half owing to a difficult plot structure. Character motivations and relationships are not at all easy to figure out. A youthful Jimmy West (Ryan Phillippe) lives with his mom Kate (Nastassja Kinski) and dad Ray (John Savage) in their trashy trailer in rural Texas. Ray and Kate run a country-western bar. Two little boys also live in the same trailer. The plot gives the impression of a dysfunctional family, but the situation is actually worse than it at first seems.

This is one of those films that can be frustrating because so much remains hidden from the viewer. Explanations do come at the end, for the most part. So the viewer will need to be patient.

The main problem here is a script that needed a re-write or two. After all is revealed, I still didn't understand the motivations of Kate. A major character, one that doesn't show up until well into the film, probably needed to be introduced a little earlier in the plot. And though the two little boys are cute, too much plot time is spent on them relative to the film's underlying message.

Yet, the story premise is fairly unique, and quite stunning. Color cinematography is properly dark, consistent with the dark, menacing tone of the story. Lots of close-ups, even extreme close-ups, stress the importance of character over action. Attention to detail in production design and some good Tex-Mex music add authenticity to the contemporary setting.

Casting is acceptable. Overall acting is above average. I really liked the performance of Shirley Knight. And John Savage gives his usual intense performance.

"Little Boy Blue" conveys the message that people aren't always what they seem to be. And their secrets can negatively impact the lives of those around them. Despite some plot problems in the first half, the film is worth watching both for the acting and especially for the film's underlying premise.
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10/10
Hook, Line, Sinker
PeepingThoughts8 July 2002
I saw this on cable once and was drawn to the mystique of the story plot. I was very impressed with the film and Ryan's acting. This is an emotional, psycho-illness film and isn't for anyone who has an overly sensitive tummy/heart/whatever. If you're the type who likes surprises in film, I recommend this one without hesitation.
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