is a 1999
drama film written, directed, and produced by American
filmmaker John Sayles
. The drama features Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio
, David Strathairn
, Vanessa Martinez
and Kris Kristofferson
In the United States, it was the first film released by the resurrected Screen Gems unit of Sony Pictures Entertainment.
Set in an unnamed city in Alaska
, Joe Gastineaux (Strathairn) is a former high school basketball
star and fisherman
who works as a handyman
. Donna De Angelo (Mastrantonio) is a lounge singer
. Noelle (Martinez) is Donna's daughter and a coworker of Joe's.
The first half of the film tells the relationship between Joe and Donna as they become romantically involved, and Donna negotiates a troubled relationship with her daughter.
Joe's dissolute brother takes the three along on a boat trip. The brother is murdered by drug dealers to whom he owes money and Joe, Donna, and Noelle are forced to seek shelter on an uninhabited island. The film takes its name, in part, from the uncertainty of their fate on the island.
Film critic Roger Ebert
lauded the film and its story structure, writing, "What I liked so much about this story structure is that it confounded my expectations at every step. I expected the story to stay in Juneau, but it didn't. When it took a turn toward adventure, I thought the threat would come from nature--but it comes from men. After the three characters are stranded, I expected--I don't know what, maybe Swiss Family Robinson
-style improvisation. But Sayles gradually reveals his buried theme, which is that in a place like the Alaskan wilderness you can never be sure what will happen next. And that optimism, bravery and ingenuity may not be enough.
- Limbo screenplay at Script-O-Rama.