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Laramie Movie Scope: The Fan

A better than average psychological thriller

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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August 17, 1996 -- Generally, I'm not fond of psychological thrillers, but this one isn't bad. Of course, it helps to have one of the greatest living actors, Robert De Niro, in the film.

De Niro plays Gil Renard, a baseball fan whose personal life is falling apart. When Renard is forbidden by a court order from seeing his own son and loses his job, he goes off the deep end.

He becomes obsessed with Bobby Rayburn (Wesley Snipes), a star baseball player with the San Francisco Giants. Renard sees in Rayburn a man much like himself, a hard-driving perfectionist with a son about his own age.

Rayburn is having his own troubles. Deep in a slump, he gets into a fight with another player who has his "lucky number" 11 and won't give it up. Renard sees the fight and ends up killing the other player so that Rayburn can have the lucky number.

Rayburn immediately breaks out of his slump and starts hitting again. Soon after, Renard, who has been watching Rayburn at his beach front home, rescues Rayburn's son from the surf and gets into Rayburn's house.

When Rayburn confides in Renard and tells him he is no longer a perfectionist, that he is hitting better by relaxing and taking the pressure off himself, Renard feels betrayed. He feels Rayburn doesn't appreciate what he did for him. He kidnaps Rayburn's son in a sick attempt to get respect from Rayburn.

This sets off a violent chain of events that leads to the film's final climax at the ballpark. The parallels between the two men make the film more interesting than a typical psychological thriller of this type. De Niro is excellent and Snipes is also convincing. Major leaguer John Kruk also has a minor supporting role.

I really didn't think the climax quite lived up to the rest of the film after all the buildup, but it was O.K. The production values are first rate. The cinematography, by Dariusz Wolski, is excellent, and the soundtrack, with lots of great Rolling Stones songs, is very good. This film is a cut above average for its type. I rate it a B.

Click here for links to places to buy this movie in video and/or DVD format, the soundtrack, books, even used videos, games and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 1996 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)