David Duchovny is a blocked author with a fascination for outlaw killers who hatches a plan to road trip through America's mass-murder landmarks to finish his book. He enlists his frustrated photographer girlfriend Mich... more »elle Forbes, who desperately wants to leave the East Coast for L.A., to illustrate the tome, and they advertise for riding partners. Luckily for them, they wind up with a veteran killer, the greasy trailer-park ex-con Brad Pitt, who decides to skip parole with his cowering child-woman girlfriend Juliette Lewis. Duchovny is enamored by gun-toting Pitt's recklessness and lawless disregard for, well, everything; he's simultaneously terrified and thrilled by Pitt's brutal beating of a barfly. Meanwhile, Pitt's leaving a trail of corpses in their wake. Directed with a cool remove by Dominic Sena (Gone in 60 Seconds 2000), Kalifornia falls somewhere between Badlands and Natural Born Killers. Pitt brings a ferocious magnetism to his part, but it's still hard to buy genial Duchovny's odd attraction; Juliette Lewis conveys a terrifying sense of victimization with her poor dumb creature. Despite the film's best efforts, it never really plumbs the psyche of Pitt's simmering psycho--he's just plain bad, you know--but it does fashion an effective little thriller out of the tensions brewing in the restless quartet. --Sean Axmaker« less
James B. (wandersoul73) from LINDALE, TX Reviewed on 6/22/2009...
One of Brad Pitt's very best! I've seen this a slew of times and it never gets stale.
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S. Schwaller | Crystal, MN USA | 04/02/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Not only is this a completely entertaining flick, but I just discovered a cool tidbit. Brad Pitt, Juliette Lewis, David Duchovny and Michelle Forbes stop at several points on their crosscountry tour, and the movie provides little "captions" ala "X-Files" from time to time. Six minutes in, they arrive at BRADbury Textile Warehouse in PITTsburgh, Pennsylvania. Twenty-seven minutes in, they're at Novak Farm in FORBES, Tennessee. Then at one hour and six minutes they get to LEWISton Abattoir in Mt. JULIET, Texas. And my favorite, one hour 22 minutes in, they finally arrive at DAVIDson Mine in DEW COVE, NEvada. I know this isn't really a review, but it is so damn cool that I just had to share. Enjoy!"
For Those Who Doubt Brad Pitt Can Act
carol irvin | United States | 01/22/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If you come upon this movie after seeing Brad Pitt play one gorgeous leading man character after another and you think he wouldn't have had a chance in Hollywood without his looks, this movie will change your mind. In fact, I wonder whether his great looks have kept him from getting the deep, dark roles he is well capable of playing. Pitt plays a low-life, red-neck, serial killer who is presently living with Juliette Lewis in his hovel of a trailer. He includes the trailer park owner in his long list of victims and then pulls up stakes to leave for California. His way of getting there, with Lewis in tow, is to share travel expenses with two yuppies, a couple, driving there. At this point, the movie adds black comedy and satire to its orginal mix, which lifts it quite a bit above the standard serial killer plotline we've grown accustomed to seeing. David Duchovny is the male yuppie driver and he is a liberal writer who wants to write a book about serial killers. He even has stops along the journey at different crime scenes of various serial killers. The supreme irony is that he doesn't realize he has a serial killer in the back seat of his car while he pontificates endlessly about his book in progress. I know this actor is a big tv star now and one can see by watching this film why one actor became big in tv and the other big in film. Pitt simply eclipses everyone in the movie as far as acting talent with only Juliette Lewis coming close to him in total impact. If you are looking for the typical sexy Brad Pitt movie, this isn't it. If you are looking for Brad Pitt, the actor, this is the movie to see."
Great overlooked film
Gogol | England | 07/25/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Yeah I guess when people think of Brad Pitt they think of the pouting dope in films like Troy, mumbling his way through lines and generally acting like a complete prat. In this film though, he does a real good job.
Like in True Romance where he plays a drugged out bum he does a great job in playing a deranged hick killer. You always know when an actor has done a good job when you forget who he is and just watch the character he plays. Juliette sadly just plays the same role she plays in every other film she does. Nice but dumb hillbilly while the guy from the X files needs to stay there because he really is a bit of a plank in this film.
The basics of the film are, writer with an interest in serial killers decides to take his girlfriend across country searching out the places where some of the most brutal murders in American history took place, picks up smelly hillbilly and girlfriend for the ride (who just so happens is a serial killer) and well.......you can guess the rest.
Good film, worth a look."
Great update of Lupino's *The Hitch-Hiker*
Mom Pressfour | 08/13/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In 1953 Ida Lupino directed a noirish black-and-white road thriller titled *The Hitch-Hiker*. If you want to know more about that movie go here:
Forty years later Dominic Sena directed the neo-noirish color road thriller *Kalifornia*. The bare-bones plot basics of the two movies are the same: a couple of folks driving through the desert on their way to California give a ride to a stranger who turns out to be a serial killer. But Sena and his crew build upon the simple though effective *Hitch-Hiker* plot to construct a complex, bleaker and more chilling vision of a carload of people on their way deeper and deeper into hell.
Usually David Duchovny's acting fails to move me. But in *Kalifornia* he's perfect as laid-back magazine writer Brian Kessler, wannabe author of a book on famous American serial killers. Kessler embraces a liberal, pop-psych, sympathetic view of the monsters in human form who murder again and again. Always ready to argue that serial killers can be understood if we lay aside our prejudices and try, Kessler aspires to be counted among the few rare intellectuals who really do understand them. I liked the line Earlie Grace says about how "Brian" becomes "brain" if the i and the a are switched. That sums up Kessler well--he floats through life like a brain-shaped balloon filled with helium. Earlie seizes Brian by his string--his ambition to become a famous author--and drags him into a liberal intellectual's worst nightmare.
Kessler's girlfriend, a mannish yet insecure art photographer in black leather named Carrie, is a stand-out role by Michelle Forbes. The relationship she and Duchovny play out is postmodern in a very believable way. Cool, sexy...yet empty.
It's a cliche to use the word awesome, but it's the only one that does justice to Brad Pitt as Earlie Grace, the killer on the road whose mind is squirming like a toad. He's a jaguar. That's what I thought of: Earlie is a big jungle cat, watchful of everything around him with his fixed, glittering eyes that betray no emotion except when the urge to kill is upon him. Earlie's tone of voice falls somewhere between a growl, a snort, and an edgy cat's howl. He's usually hulking and lazy, yet when he needs to be, he's blindlingly swift. When he strikes, it's not with the object of enjoying the violence. His goal is to make his prey dead as fast as he can. Yes, just like a big cat that bites its prey once, hard, on the back of the neck to crush the spine. Yet Earlie can be friendly, even kind. But the people around him, no matter how close he seems to them, are never far from the category of his prey.
Earlie's white trash girlfriend Adele is played convincingly by Juliette Lewis. She's simple, kind-hearted damaged goods with a need to be protected and to see the best in people. That's why she's with Earlie. The friendship that forms between Adele and Carrie is touching.
*Kalifornia* is the kind of thriller that spills over into a horror film. Whenever the plot comes to a point where "either this or that could happen," what usually happens is the worst thing. Earlie tells the nice guy attendant in the gas station he robs that he has to kill him. The guy is so polite that Earlie changes his mind. But then the poor guy has to go and ask Earlie to hand him his Bible from behind the counter. Bad move. Why, we don't quite understand, since Earlie professes belief in God himself. But that's Earlie. You can't predict what a jungle predator will do next.
There are some clever, even symbolic touches in *Kalifornia*. It's interesting that the action culminates in Dreamland, where atom bombs were tested in the Nevada desert. Carrie, the feisty postmodern woman, all attitude with very little substance, ends up like one of the mute test dummies frozen in time, its only purpose being to get blown to pieces. Notice what she does when, at the end, she makes her move against Earlie.
I rate *Kalifornia* 5 stars because 1) it's an improvement upon an earlier great film, because 2) Duchovny got through to me for once with his performance, and because 3) Brad Pitt scares the hell out of me as Earlie Grace.
My Name Is Earl....y Grace
Armord Saynt | Washington DC, USA | 08/17/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"For some reason there are some disturbing similarities between EARLy Grace and "Earl" on the TV show "My Name Is Earl". There is also the talk about "Karma" at one point in the movie like the show. I don't know but is just me? The creators of My Name Is Earl may have just been fans of (Brad Pitt's Early) that they decided to create a comedic version of the character. This was Brad at his best in my opinion next to 12 Monkeys and Fight Club!"