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Film / U Turn

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U Turn is a 1997 neo-noir crime thriller film directed by Oliver Stone, starring Sean Penn, Billy Bob Thornton, Jennifer Lopez, Jon Voight, Powers Boothe, Joaquin Phoenix, Claire Danes and Nick Nolte.

A drifter named Bobby (Penn) is on his way to pay off a large debt of $13,000 to a gangster in Las Vegas when his car breaks down, forcing him to drive to the nearest town, Superior, Arizona. While waiting for his car to be fixed by the town mechanic, he wanders around the town where, everything that can go wrong, does go wrong.

This film contains examples of:

  • Accidental Adultery: Bobby didn't know Grace was married until her husband bursted in on them kissing.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: Bobby says one to Darrell.
    Bobby: 40,000 thousand people die every day in the world, why can't you be one of them?
  • Can't Live with Them, Can't Live without Them: Jake says this word for word to Bobby about his wife Grace.
  • Cloudcuckooland: Superior, Arizona, the town where Bobby gets stranded, is depicted in this way. The two most plot-important women shown act as Femme Fatales straight out of a Film Noir, which might not be bad... if the men didn't act as Crazy Jealous Guys. Except the mechanic. He's just nuts (and will do additional work on your car so that he can charge a higher price for the work). Lampshaded by Bobby:
    Bobby: Is everyone in this town on drugs?!?
  • Cock Fight: Bobby accuses Grace of doing this when her husband comes home early and they start fighting over her.
  • Crazy Jealous Guy:
    • Jake punches Bobby after catching him with his wife, then offers him money to kill her.
    • The girl who has a crush on Bobby has a jealous boyfriend who ends up beating Bobby up.
  • Diner Brawl: Bobby gets beaten up in a diner by a jealous boyfriend who is pissed that his girlfriend has a crush on him. He actually gets beaten up a lot in this movie.
  • Disturbed Doves: A flock of birds is startled into taking flight in the final sequence, when Bobby jumps on Grace and starts strangling her.
  • Everything Trying to Kill You: As pointed out by Roger Ebert in his review of the film, during the course of his brief stay in Superior, Arizona, Bobby is kicked in the ribs several dozen times, is almost bitten by a tarantula, shot at, and has his car all but destroyed—and that's all before the final scenes with the vultures circling overhead.
  • Fingore: How Bobby injured his hand.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Jake threatening to spank his wife Grace for her infidelity.
    • Grace's submissiveness with her husband Jake.
  • Ignore the Fanservice: Among all the other annoying people Bobby encounters is a reasonably attractive local girl (she's played by Claire Danes after all) who may or may not be underage (though she certainly acts like it) who keeps throwing herself at him, perhaps as a possible ticket out of town. Even though he keeps rebuffing her, her interest provokes the jealousy of her hotheaded boyfriend, who keeps getting in Bobby's face for it, and ends up causing him problems.
  • Interrupted Intimacy: Just as Bobby gives Grace The Big Damn Kiss, her husband Jake bursts in on them.
    Jake: (walks in on Grace and Bobby kissing) Grace!
    Grace: Jake! I thought you were in Phoenix!
    Jake: Who the hell is this?!
    Bobby: Who the hell are you?!
    Jake: I'm her husband!
    Bobby: Husband?
  • May–December Romance: For being a (supposedly) happily married couple, there is a drastic age difference between Jake and Grace, as Jake looks old enough to be Grace's father. Turns out he is.
  • Old Man Marrying a Child: In a plot twist, it is revealed that after the death of her mother, Grace married her father Jake.
  • Parental Incest: Grace reveals that she is not just Jake's wife; she is also his illegitimate child.
  • Plot Twist: Jake and Grace are initially thought to be husband and wife with a considerable age difference. Turns out she is not only his wife but also his illegitimate daughter and Jake has been sexually abusing her for years.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: Bobby finds himself in a lot of trouble by accident due to a misunderstanding and is just trying to make his way out of a nasty town when he gets the mob onto him. His only exit out is his car, but then it breaks down and he needs to get it fixed. Meanwhile people are trying to kill him, and the girl he falls for turns against him and is out to kill him too. When the car is finally repaired he finds she stole his keys. Out of desperation to get out of this town he strangles her to death and retrieves the keys, but not before she shoots him in the gut. As he lays wounded, he finally makes it back to his car to drive off only to find the mechanic who repaired his car duped him and it breaks down again. The last scene is of Bobby resigning himself to die from his wound.
  • Shower of Angst: Bobby takes one while his hand bleeds and he remembers how his hand got injured.
  • Sinister Southwest: The film is about a guy in Arizona and every hardship he's put through.
  • The Tease: Grace towards Bobby.
  • Villainous Incest: Jake sexually abused Grace from a young age and then married her after her mother died.
  • Wham Line:
    • Sheriff Potter delivers one to Bobby about Grace.
      Sheriff Potter: She liked fuckin' her papa.
    • Grace delivers one to Bobby about her relationship with Jake.
      Grace: Don't you want to know? Was Jake my father? Was I fucking my daddy? Yes, I was! I was fucking my daddy! And I married him! I married him, okay? I just wanted to be a kid. And they took that from me. They treated me like meat. A piece of meat. Fuck him! Fuck the whole town, they deserve to die!
  • Within Arm's Reach: Played with in the final scene. Bobby is strangling Grace. As her arms flail around one hand lands on a gun. She has just enough strength left to pick it up and fire a bullet into his gut...but he in turn has enough strength to keep a grip on her neck, and seconds later she dies.