Baxter, California, population 89, is a desert town with only one landmark: a giant ice cream cone. When a truck
carrying possibly hazardous materials is wrecked on the highway, and the town is sealed off by federal officials, residents seem almost relieved to have something to talk about. For once, the town appears poised to become a hotbed of activity, but it never happens. Desert Blue, the second feature from Hurricane Streets writer-
director Morgan J. Freeman,
is as sleepy as its lonely setting. Everyone in the film is smothered by the local ennui: one FBI agent barely raises an eyebrow when Christina Ricci’s Unabomber-in-training blows up some government property. There are a few sharply
observed scenes involving the local kids, played by Brendan Sexton III, Casey Affleck, Isidra Vega, and Ethan Suplee. When one gets into an accident, his friends gather at his bedside to console him—and to sample his prescription painkillers. By and large, though, Desert Blue is done in by its too-accurate portrayal of listlessness, and the movie doesn’t invite much interest beyond its indie all-star cast.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on June 8, 1999