Why bother renting something that just played on TV four months ago? Because it's so good that it deserves to be seen again or for the first time, if you missed this unusually sophisticated made-for-cable drama. Pete Dexter adapted his own prize-winning novel a study of the Deep South's heart of darkness, set in 1949 Georgia and director Stephen Gyllenhaal drew out the book's creepiness and rising sense of dread. Gripping it may be, but Paris Trout is viewer beware altogether depressing.
Dennis Hopper stars as Trout, the mean-spirited racist who sees nothing wrong with shooting a black mother and daughter; Barbara Hershey portrays the wife under his tyranny who can never completely detach from him; and Ed Harris plays the defense attorney who must wrestle with his conscience. The film is a little too fussy visually, with too many auras in the lighting and too much pastel haziness. And it fails to avoid much of the self-consciousness that pervaded the novel. But in Hopper's alternately restrained and raging peformance is everything that once was, and sometimes still is, truly frightening in this country. B+