Tuesday, 19 January 2010

King of the Hill, Steven Soderbergh, USA 1993

King of the Hill is a little known, early film of Steven Soderbergh, telling the story of Aaron, played by Jesse Bradford, living by his wits during the Great Depression. Soderbergh himself wrote the screenplay, based on on the memoirs of A. E. Hotchner, American novelist and playwright.

Jesse's life is filled with almost every misery and mishap imaginable, and it is above all due to the screenplay as well as Bradford's portrayal of Jesse, that make King of the Hill feel realistic and prevent it from drifting off into the maudlin or implausible. If I have one criticism, it is that the cinematography is not quite in keeping with the narrative, as the realism and the dreariness of King of the Hill are offset by images that are too reminiscent of Norman Rockwell to do justice to the topic, which in my opinion, would have required images that are grittier, rougher and , in fact, more realistic.

Nevertheless, while it bears few traces of Soderbergh's habitual inventiveness and penchant for exploration, King of the Hill is a well-crafted, engaging, film, and one of the few where I prayed for a happy ending.

King of the Hill is available on DVD.