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  2 Days in the Valley Choose To Win, Choose To Lose
Year: 1996
Director: John Herzfeld
Stars: Danny Aiello, Greg Cruttwell, Jeff Daniels, Teri Hatcher, Glenne Headly, Peter Horton, Marsha Mason, Paul Mazursky, James Spader, Eric Stoltz, Charlize Theron, Keith Carradine, Louise Fletcher, Austin Pendleton, Michael Jai White, Lawrence Tierney
Genre: Drama, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 3 votes)
Review: Dosmo (Danny Aiello) has been brought along by Lee (James Spader) to watch this house, and they have good reason for doing so as they listen in on the couple inside. The woman, Olympic skier Becky (Teri Hatcher) has thrown her ex Roy (Peter Horton) out of bed and they've obviously hit a rocky patch in their relationship, but the two eavesdroppers are waiting until they go to sleep before making their move, not even intervening when Roy attempts to rape Becky. When they do enter the house, he has some questions to answer...

2 Days in the Valley was one of those post-Pulp Fiction movies which proliferated in the nineties, and indeed continued into the next century, where a bunch of plot strands were assembled to sufficiently intrigue the audience as to where they would end up and how they would intersect. So here we may start with the hitmen, but soon we have been distracted by Paul Mazursky's suicidal director or the two cops played by Eric Stoltz and Jeff Daniels who are trying and failing to bust a massage parlour which has opened locally. But if it's recalled today, it's not so much for writer and director John Herzfeld's dexterity with his narrative.

No, it's more the catfight which occurs about two thirds in between Hatcher and Charlize Theron, which caught the attention of the type of person who likes that kind of thing as one of the finest examples of that "art". Interestingly, while Hatcher at this time was trying to establish herself in movies after success on the small screen, Theron was just starting out in Hollywood, and it would be she who went on to win an Oscar and secure all those plaudits and headlining roles, while Hatcher's movie career faltered and she returned to television. Not that the catfight represented any great rivalry between the actresses, but it's amusing to view it as a battle of the beauties as to who stole the movie from the rest of the cast.

Theron might have prevailed because she chose to do a nude scene where Hatcher did not, but that's not to say the co-stars were eclipsed, as they all had plenty of opportunities to shine in a script that often came across as if it were a product of a writer's workshop, with every role designed to get a name actor into the movie when they could have a big speech or bit of business to make them stand out from the crowd. Trouble was, with every performer getting their time in the sun (literally - these two Californian days are very bright and hot) it was hard to see where our focus was intended to lie as the overall effect was less slick than notably busy.

One thing you could be sure of was who was a goodie and who was a baddie, as the villains were, like Spader's character, out to exploit the others for their own purposes while those being exploited had their own integrity which made us warm to them. Occasionally a bad guy became a good guy - we can tell Aiello's hitman, even though he takes a house hostage, is actually a better man than his actions indicate, and these nuances made for interest in how it all would resolve itself. It's just that there was a superficiality to the film which rendered the twists in the storyline less spontaneous and more contrived to generate the appropriate audience reaction, looking like a lot of genre thrillers had been studied, not only Quentin Tarantino ones, to create an amalgam of the best of them. Not necessarily meaning the results would hit those lofty heights, but 2 Days in the Valley operated on a professional level that rewarded, if not inspired, the curious. Music by Anthony Marinelli.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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