Poster design by Dan Chapman
|Directed by||Michael Cimino|
|Produced by||Arnon Milchan|
Joseph S. Vecchio
|Written by||Charles Leavitt|
|Music by||Maurice Jarre|
|Edited by||Joe D'Augustine|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros.|
|Box office||$21,508 (Domestic)|
"Blue" Monroe (played by Seda) is a 16-year-old juvenile offender (convicted of murdering an abusive stepfather) who is dying of abdominal cancer. Dr. Michael Reynolds (played by Harrelson) is Blue's materialistic, self-absorbed oncologist.
During a medical visit, Blue, who is half Navajo, discovers that he has only 1-2 months to live and decides to escape. He kidnaps Dr. Reynolds and forces him to drive to Arizona, to visit a mountain lake sacred to the Navajo people. The trip forces both to confront their sense-of-self and life choices.
Mickey Rourke, a collaborator and friend of Cimino's, believes the director "snapped" sometime during the making of The Sunchaser. "Michael is the sort of person that if you take away his money he short-circuits," Rourke says. "He is a man of honor." Rourke did not say how or why Cimino "snapped."
Joe D'Augustine, the film's editor, recalls his first meeting with Cimino: "It was kind of eerie, freaky. I was led into this dark editing room with black velvet curtains and there was this guy hunched over. They bring me into, like, his chamber, as if he was the Pope. Everyone was speaking in hushed tones. He had something covering his face, a handkerchief. He kept his face covered. And nobody was allowed to take his picture [...] Welcome to Ciminoville."
A theatrical release was intended, but the film fared poorly enough with test audiences to go straight to video in the United States. The film was entered into competition at the 1996 Cannes Film Festival where it was nominated for the Palme D'Or.[a 1]
The film received largely negative reviews. Todd McCarthy of Variety wrote, "Michael Cimino's return to filmmaking after a six-year layoff is a conceptually bold tale marked, in its execution, both by visceral intensity and dramatic sloppiness." Jo-Ann Pittman wrote in Film Directors that Sunchaser had "a predictable and often laughable script. Not good considering it is a drama. The characters are stereotypical and the story again lacks direction. It attempts to handle too many stories at one time. The New Age mystical healing waters are cliche as is the kidnapper/victim story."Leonard Maltin gave the film one and a half stars: "Misbegotten mess tries to touch all trendy bases, scrambling American Indian mysticism, 'New Age' theories and buddy-movie clichés into the format of a road movie."
Kevin Thomas of Los Angeles Times gave Sunchaser one of its few positive notices. While noting the predictability of the script, Thomas added, "Yet all that's so familiar in Charles Leavitt's script has been given a fresh, brisk spin by the sheer audacity and force of Cimino's style and by an incisive, wide-ranging performance by Harrelson..."