Jayne Mansfield’s Car Screen 8 articles

Jayne Mansfield’s Car


Jayne Mansfield’s Car Poster
  • For all the attempted peculiarities of the script (it's the kind of tale where Skip's tryst with his transatlantic paramour consists of jerking off while listening to her recite Tennyson), Thornton's visual style tends toward blandness, despite indulging in slow motion and montages. And the third act is littered with on-the-nose pronouncements like, after a viewing of the titular celebrity death car, "There's a crash waiting for all of us..."

  • ...Thornton never establishes a rhythm that would let him move between stories without it feeling like he’s changing channels on a vintage TV, the dial clunking into place every time he moves on. There’s ambition here, but little in the way of insight or genuine feeling—just a heavy-handed thesis and some extraneous Southern eccentricity.

  • As retrograde as the beliefs of its elder characters, Jayne Mansfield’s Car offers up 1969-set generational and cultural conflicts—along with lots of father-son tensions—that go nowhere except the most predictable places at the slowest pace possible.

  • While this thematic element has inherent fascinations, the film doesn't explore them so much as it scatters them through the narrative as intriguing indicators of character. In effect, Thornton seems less interested in creating a coherent, focused comedy-drama than in fashioning a group of colorful, variegated folks and inviting us to enjoy spending time with them.

  • There’s a terrific movie struggling to escape from this overplotted, overedited, overdetermined stew directed by Billy Bob Thornton, who co-wrote it with Tom Epperson... Though the situations arising from the clashing cultures and shaken-up routines often lurch between cliché and silliness, Thornton directs with a sure feeling for mood, texture, and place.

  • ...Jayne Mansfield’s Car is vital, ornery, and alive in a way that too few American indie features are nowadays. (Oddly, it’s being released by the Weinstein Company. Guess they made up.) The story’s overall trajectory is familiar, and sometimes clichéd, but it still has the power to surprise and startle from moment to moment, which is what really counts.

  • Why should we care about this fairly well executed screenplay, with no interesting mise en scène at all, if not for the joy of observing great actors at work?

  • Here, despite the small scale of the film and the rough, predictable outlines of the story, Thornton has inspired these veterans to turn in great work — a welcome reminder that his is a directorial voice that’s been gone for too long. Jayne Mansfield’s Car isn’t likely to set America’s theaters on fire, but it’s a powerful whisper of a film.

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