The Only Thrill

on February 13, 1998 by Dale Winogura
   A romantic drama without any romance or credible drama, this clumsily staged film of Larry Ketron's play "The Trading Post" leans on banal soap-opera devices instead of honest characterizations to milk cheap tears from gullible viewers. At least Sam Shepard is watchable as a Texas widower in 1966 who carries on a close friendship with a single neighbor (a wasted Diane Keaton) off and on for 30 years, but with no commitment from either side. Meanwhile, Shepard's grown son (Robert Patrick, foolishly miscast) and Keaton's daughter (a listless Diane Lane) develop a much more intimate relationship over the decades. The common, prosaic dialogue and situations are directed by Peter Masterson with the same absence of style and truth that marked his overrated 1985 "Trip to Bountiful."    Starring Diane Keaton, Sam Shepard and Diane Lane. Directed by Peter Masterson. Written by Larry Ketron. Produced by Yael Stroh, James Holt and Gabriel Greenfeld. A Legacy release. Drama. Rated R for language. Running time: 108 min.
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