No Looking Back

* 1/2*

Edward Burns tackles his third picture with No Looking Back, and like his previous two, it is a working-class relationship picture. However, unlike his previous work, the film dwells on a more personal story, and with a female protagonist. And in No Looking Back, he stumbles, making a slow, boring film without the spark that enlivened his previous work.

Claudia (Lauren Holly) is a small town waitress who is feeling stifled by her life. She's at a turning point in her life, and feels as if she's going nowhere. Her boyfriend, Michael (Jon Bon Jovi), is broke and in a dead end job. If she were to marry him, she'd never get a chance to escape this town.

Enter Charlie (Edward Burns), Claudia's old flame. He skipped town several years before, without any explanations...even for Claudia. He has come back to town to see her, and suddenly she is torn. Should she stay with stable Michael, and never escape her hometown...or should she ignore her instincts and fall for Charlie again.

Part of the answer lies in the character of her mother (Blythe Danner), who fell for the wrong man...and has spent her life pining for Claudia's father to return. Now it seems that Claudia is about to make the same mistakes.

At only a little past ninety minutes, No Looking Back is rather short for its genre. Unfortunately, it seems much much longer. The storyline is simple and uninspired, and there's a lack of energy to the whole proceedings, which makes the entire drama rather tedious.

Edward Burns makes a misstep by casting himself in the crucial role as the egomaniacal old flame. There's no one to restrain his ego, which reigns unchecked. He walks into the room and Lauren Holly swoons...yeah, right.

Lauren Holly does what she can with her central character. But we never understand why her character makes such pathetically bad decisions...and we never really care.

Bon Jovi is the only sympathetic character in the whole movie. His acting talents are much greater than they might seem, but he is given a mostly bland and ineffective role to work with.

There's not much to recommend in No Looking Back. It's not that the film is bad...it's simply boring. There's no zest in any aspect of the film, and no reason to spend ninety minutes watching it. (Gramercy)


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