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White Lightnin'


Stars: Edward Hogg, Carrie Fisher, Owen Campbell, Stephanie Astalos-Jones, Kirk Bovill, Muse Watson, Steve Nicolson

Director: Dominic Murphy

A profile of hillbilly singer Jesse White, this almost-in-black-and-white movie carries a strange 'backwoods' fascination with its drumming, wailing music and oddball narrative.

Young Jesse's habit of sniffing gasoline and other fumes has him thrown in jail, mental asylums and any other place his parents think might help. His daddy, D Ray White (Watson), was a famous 'board dancer' and his son learned the talent but, as he says, 'there was always some kind of evil lurking. It just seemed to follow me around.'

The adult Jesse (Hogg) hooks up with a middle-aged woman (Fisher) and tours the local clubs and bars with his dancing act. But his head is full of thoughts of both drugs and vengeance on the two rednecks who killed his pa - 'like your past coming up to your future, messin' with your good life.'

Striking stuff, this, a little tedious at times, hypnotic at others and shot in colour with all the shades drained, rendering it almost monochrome. The boy Campbell is extraordinary as the young Jesse.

David Quinlan

UK/USA/Croatia 2008. UK Distributor: Momentum. Colour by Kodak.
88 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 18.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 2, Violence/Horror 3, Drugs 3, Swearing 2.

Review date: 19 Sep 2009