John Sayles' Lone Star limns the uncertain border between past and present

John Sayles is among the most literary of American moviemakers (he published a novel, Los Gusanos, in 1991), and Lone Star strikes a fine, novelistic balance between rumination and purpose; despite a large cast of characters rounded out through anecdote and detail, the movie quickly establishes a momentum it never loses.

But Lone Star's greatest, and perhaps inadvertent, strength is its picture of people splitting their differences to get on with life. Mercedes is constantly exhorting her young Mexican workers to "speak English, this is America," but whether Sayles' characters speak English or Spanish or both in the same sentence, they manage to make themselves understood. It's a world without borders.

Lone Star opens Friday, June 21, at the Embarcadero Center in S.F. and the Act One/Two in Berkeley.

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