Lisa Schwarzbaum
January 23, 1998 AT 05:00 AM EST

Illtown

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
performer
Michael Rapaport, Liv Tyler, Tony Danza, Isaac Hayes, Adam Trese
director
Nick Gomez
genre
Drama, Mystery and Thriller

We gave it a C+

The disjointed, unraveling, fever-dream world of a trio of mid-level drug dealers is overlaid with highfalutin religious and literary allusions in this atmospheric but untethered indie project from writer-director Nick Gomez. How highfalutin? Try: Michael Rapaport plays a dealer (and user) named Dante, who does indeed find himself in a kind of inferno of his own making; Adam Trese plays Dante’s worst nightmare, a former associate (and addict) named Gabriel, who returns from prison (or is it from the dead?) dressed in angelic white, with no compunction about killing. Gomez’s cast does smooth ensemble work — including Lili Taylor as Dante’s girl and Kevin Corrigan as his business partner, who delivers a touching, tossed-off monologue about love lost. Tony Danza plays delightfully slick as…the Devil?, and Isaac Hayes plays smooth as…God? But, in a tangle of self-conscious narco-chic style, Gomez (who made a splash six years ago with Laws of Gravity and who grabbed a CableACE nomination for his terrific directing on HBO’s powerful Oz), wanders — as the poet wrote — ”within a dark wood where the straight way [is] lost.”

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