Flesh and Bone [1993]

The darkest of the filmic trilogy that unites husband and wife Dennis Quaid and Meg Ryan, Flesh and Bone is a grimly affecting tale of two lonely lives, one unexpectedly, dramatically affected by the other. Quaid is the tragic Arlis, condemned to running away from memories of his horrific childhood. His is a life on the road, replenishing vending machines including one with a live chicken and predictions of the future. Ryan's unhappily wed Kay fears a past that Arlis is inextricably tied to. Still, they're drawn to each other. Then Arlis's father, the amoral Roy (an appropriately frightening James Caan), shows up and interferes and intervenes. Joining Roy is the benignly malevolent Ginnie (a sharp Gwyneth Paltrow in her first significant role). The film is written and directed by underused Steve Kloves, who wrote the lovely Racing with the Moon, and who wrote and directed The Fabulous Baker Boys. For Flesh, Ryan is at her throaty, dark best, and Quaid's pain is etched on his face. The couple works very well together in this film, their first as a married couple (Innerspace and D.O.A. were made pre-nup). It's not the romantic light comedy both Quaid and Ryan had later success with, but it's a very effective and compelling film, despite its devastating tale. --N.F. Mendoza

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