Repo Man

Repo Man

*****

Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

"The more you drive, the less intelligent you are."

That's bad news for Otto. Down on his luck and out of ready cash, he's just landed a job as a repo man. He didn't want to do that kind of scummy thing to people, of course, but like most things in his life, it kind of happened by accident. At least he's not robbing stores like his friends. He's got a future. As his mentor tells him, the life of a repo man is always intense. But perhaps never quite as intense as this, when there's a big reward out for a 1974 Chevy Malibu caught up in something related to Area 51 - a car with a deadly secret and a driver who is slowly losing his mind.

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That's just the start of it.

If late punk era filmmaking was all about style over substance, Alex Cox's seminal work has buckets of both. Emilio Estevez has never been better than as its ambitious yet affable young punk hero, living with parents who literally never move from the couch, eating from tins labelled simply 'food', chasing a girl with serious issues and lurching from one absurdly dangerous situation to another, all with an easy humour one cannot help but warm to. He's living in an archetypal decaying American city, yet it's a world he and his friends and colleagues completely take for granted - they are at once the sort of scum Hollywood never touches and, as Otto knows, just more white suburban punks. With nothing much to do and no-one much to do it to, the stage is set for all manner of strange and unusual events. But when recreational drugs have been a part of life for several decades, everybody's used to hearing weird-ass bullshit tales.

Stuffed to the gills with highly quotable dialogue, played deadpan for side-splitting laughs and yet curiously romantic, Repo Man is a testament to a whole way of life, its moments of fantasy only serving to highlight its strange reality. It features a stunning soundtrack with contributions from the likes of Plugz, the Circle Jerks and Iggy Pop, as much a pleasure to listen to as to watch. But Alex Cox's eye-catching direction means you'll never be tempted to let your attention wander. if you understand its universe at all, Repo Man is riveting from start to finish.

Reviewed on: 15 Dec 2008
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The intense life of a young punk repo man in a city haunted by a car with a secret.
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Director: Alex Cox

Writer: Alex Cox

Starring: Emilio Estevez, Harry Dean Stanton, Olivia Barash, Susan Barnes, Tracey Walter, Tom Finnegan

Year: 1984

Runtime: 92 minutes

BBFC: 18 - Age Restricted

Country: US

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