No Looking Back

on March 27, 1998 by Lisa Osborne
In "No Looking Back," Edward Burns paints what is probably a realistic picture of life in a small town in New Jersey, but it's such a drab, depressing image that it's hard to watch. Claudia (Lauren Holly) works as a waitress at the local diner and lives comfortably with her longtime boyfriend Michael (Jon Bon Jovi). He's an attractive, hard-working, reliable guy but a bit uninspiring. Claudia, if not exactly happy, seems content with her lot, until her old flame Charlie (Edward Burns) comes back to town. He disappeared three years before, just as Claudia was having a secret abortion. Charlie is the antithesis of Michael: self-absorbed, unfaithful, callous and unable to hold down a job. But he's exciting. In a few short weeks, Charlie manages to turn the whole town upside down and reawaken Claudia's childhood dreams that are bigger than both her present relationship and the town.
   "No Looking Back" will suffer from obvious comparisons with Kevin Smith's "Chasing Amy," which also focuses on the romantic entanglements of three friends living in New Jersey. But the similarity ends there: while Smith's characters are complex and continually exploring the boundaries of their sexuality, Burns' trio seems two-dimensional and confined to working-class stereotypes. Burns may be better served focusing on character development in his next movie instead of trying to divide his time between writing, acting, producing and directing. Starring Lauren Holly, Edward Burns and Jon Bon Jovi. Written and directed by Edward Burns. Produced by Ted Hope, Michael Nozik and Edward Burns. A Gramercy release. Drama. Rated R. Running time: 96 min.
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