This far-from-perfect rendering of Jim Harrison’s shimmering novella has a romantic sweep and elemental power that ultimately transcend its flaws. It’s a contempo tale of a doomed love triangle in lawless Mexico.
As J. Cochran, a hotshot Navy pilot who retires after 12 years, Kevin Costner heads down to Puerto Vallarta for recreation at the home of a wealthy sportsman friend, Tibey (Anthony Quinn) and is right away smitten with his host’s gorgeous and unhappy wife Miryea (Madeleine Stowe). Despite his friend’s graciousness and reputation as a cold-blooded killer, Cochran takes the suicide plunge into passion, running off with Miryea for a sexual idyll.
The much-fiddled-with footage was eventually pasted into its current form, and though much is lost, the tale’s simplicity, grace and subtlety shine through. All three elements of the love triangle are compelling, and as a crucial fourth character Mexico performs radiantly.
Stowe is a great screen beauty and is certainly a match for Costner’s charisma. The magnificent Quinn as a political puppeteer is so rich and sympathetic that he threatens to steal away the audience despite his brutality.