Lone Star (1996) - Rotten Tomatoes

Lone Star1996

Lone Star (1996)



Critic Consensus: Smart and absorbing, Lone Star represents a career high point for writer-director John Sayles -- and '90s independent cinema in general.

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Movie Info

A small town Texas sheriff who is living in the shadow of his legendary father prods an investigation no one wants after his father's bones are discovered. Various side-plots and well developed characters line this interesting drama.

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Chris Cooper
as Sam Deeds
Joe Morton
as Delmore Payne
Ron Canada
as Otis Payne
Clifton James
as Hollis Pogue
Kris Kristofferson
as Charlie Wade
Miriam Colon
as Mercedes Cruz
Jeff Monahan
as Young Hollis
Gabriel Casseus
as Young Otis
Vanessa Martinez
as Young Pilar
Tay Strathairn
as Young Sam
Eddie Robinson
as Chet Payne
LaTanya Richardson
as Priscilla Worth
Chandra Wilson
as Athena Johnson
Damon Guy
as Shadow
Richard Coca
as Enrique
Tony Frank
as Fenton
Richard A. Jones
as Ben Wetzel
Joe Stevens
as Deputy Travis
Randy Stripling
as Roderick Bledsoe
Beatrice Winde
as Minnie Bledsoe
Tony Amendola
as Chucho Montoya
Gordon Tootoosis
as Wesley Birdsong
Dee Macaluso
as Anglo Mother
Luis Cobo
as Mexican-American Father
Marco Perella
as Anglo Father
Don Phillips
as Principal
Mary Jane R. Hernandez
as Mexican-American Mother
Olga Luna
as Waitress
James Borrego
as Young Chucho
Lisa Suarez
as Marisol
Azalea Mendez
as Young Mercedes
Don Phillips Jr.
as High School Principal
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News & Interviews for Lone Star

Critic Reviews for Lone Star

All Critics (48) | Top Critics (12)

"Print the legend" may make a plea for amnesia, but Lone Star is worth remembering.

June 22, 2021 | Full Review…

With old-fashioned craftsmanship, Lone Star is not a movie you'll quickly forget. It may not dazzle you with its flash, but it has more on its mind than all the summer would-be blockbusters put together.

February 26, 2018 | Full Review…
Top Critic

[A] complex and rewarding new Texas murder mystery.

March 22, 2013 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

A richly textured and thoroughly engrossing drama that ranks with indie filmmaker John Sayles' finest work.

March 26, 2009
Top Critic

Sayles' witty, vividly demotic dialogue knocks even Tarantino for six, the characterisations are uniformly colourful and credible, the soundtrack and the widescreen camerawork exemplary ...

February 9, 2006 | Full Review…

Sayles' latest never bores during its 21/4-hour unreeling. But neither does it soar, despite finessing a complex flashback narrative set in 1957 and present-day.

January 1, 2000 | Rating: 2.5/4
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Lone Star

The sheriff of a small Texas border town who languishes in the shadow of his legendary father investigates the murder of a corrupt predecessor who disappeared 40 years previously when his skeleton is discovered buried in the desert. John Sayles' complex murder mystery uses a criminal investigation as a foundation of an intimate exploration of the complexities of tribalism, racial tension and prejudice in the melting pot of seemingly disparate cultures that inhabit the borderlands of the United States. It's a very clever and insightful film as the brilliant Chris Cooper's investigation peels back the layers of secrecy and mistrust to reveal a set of relationships that are more like an intricately interwoven patchwork of greys than the blacks and whites that appear on the surface. Reminiscent of some of the Coen brother's best work as well as The Wire in its detailed examination of race and culture on both sides of the law, Lone Star is a much deeper, richer experience than the usual whodunnit. A forgotten minor classic that deserves more recognition than it currently enjoys.

xGary Xx
xGary Xx

Super Reviewer


A near-masterpiece of the noir genre, detailing the dirty underpinnings of a close-knit town in Texas, specifically a respected sheriff (Chris Cooper) who stumbles upon a long-buried mystery that his late father (Matthew McConaughey, played in flash-backs) might have been involved in. What makes this film so impressive is its assured consistent plotting and character detailing throughout. It is not focused on wowing you for most of it is entirety, instead moreso on telling a story concerning race, loyalty, and family all in one two-hour spread. Then, like a freight train, the locks become unhinged, and the truth becomes clear, and it strikes with resolute force. Cooper's brilliant subtle turn may be the very best of his career, and McConaughey, in the few scenes he is in, also gets to show off his charisma and undeniable on-screen presence. Most impressively, the directing remains controlled and confident throughout its entirely. The only thing you could make a complaint about is that it may run a little too long (135 minutes), but outside of that, this film is dead-on.

Dan Schultz
Dan Schultz

Super Reviewer

Far too long for what it is, I just couldn't concentrate on it and couldn't understand what was going on. Not my type of movie.

Sophie Burgess
Sophie Burgess

Super Reviewer

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