Can't remember having seen a film...
...that so thoroughly excoriates small town life, specifically, and by extension, human beings in general. Seinfeld, using comedy (thus partially taking the sting out of what Larry David was saying about people) did it a decade after this film, but this being a drama doesn't have that "laughter cushion"to fall back on. These are crappy people! (I should say, they're just people, and this is what being a person means, if that's what the writer was going for). Nnone of them were real friends to any of the others. At no point in their lives that was shown on screen do any of them actually stand behind their "friends" when the going got rough, like when Joe is beat up (yes, Sissy and Mona help him with the physical part of it, but Juanita uses it as an opportunity to pounce, letting him know in no uncertain terms she disapproves of him completely). Mona at first seems the most sympathetic toward Joe, but she ends up being uncovered as the one that held him in the most contempt, outside of the religious fanatic. There's not a selfless act in the film! Really ballsy, for any time, but especially for back then. I'll revisit this again eventually, wonder if I'll feel any different after a second viewing.
I know there have been many works " pulling back the curtains" on small town American life, but nearly always there's a glimmer of hope that things can change, they can learn to understand/love each other etc. This film is just brutal, it lays it bare, and never once tries to say that "it can be better".
Happy I finally was able to see this, it was not what I expected at all.
Takes two to tumble it takes two to tango
Speak up don't mumble when you're in the combo