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Kansas is a quintessential and underrated American drama film released in 1988. Directed by David Stevens, the movie features stars Matt Dillon, Andrew McCarthy, and Leslie Hope among its talented ensemble cast. Known for its unique storytelling techniques, the film expertly blends elements of drama, crime, and romance, resulting in an engaging and emotionally-charged narrative.

The plot follows the interlinking lives of two young men, Wade Whitehouse, played by Matt Dillon, and Doyle Kennedy, portrayed by Andrew McCarthy. Wade is an out-of-luck drifter with a troubled past, while Doyle is an innocent East Coast boy bumped off a Greyhound bus in the middle of nowhere in Kansas on his way to California with literally only a dime in his pocket.

Randomly crossing paths in a dingy bar, Wade invites Doyle to join him on a journey across the rural landscapes of Kansas. This turns into a sudden job proposition from Wade for a quick money-making scheme. As viewers, we get to watch house the relationship between these two juxtaposing characters develops over the course of the film, wrapped up in this bizarre yet intriguing premise. Wade's seemingly absurd plan forces Doyle, a naïve outsider to the Kansas plains, well outside of his comfort zone as he finds himself immersed in the ways of the Wild West.

Through the eyes of Doyle, we get to explore Kansas's social and cultural setting which is brilliantly depicted. As he tries to navigate his new circumstances, we sense his feeling of displacement and grappling with a world unwelcoming of outsiders. There is a certain grittiness and authenticity to the depiction of Kansas highlighting the harsh and trying times of the 1980s.

Matt Dillon’s performance in Kansas, with his gruff exterior and hidden vulnerabilities, is truly commendable. He masterfully captivates the audience, portraying a young man forced to make hard choices due to circumstances beyond his control. Equally compelling is Andrew McCarthy in his role as Doyle. McCarthy perfectly encapsulates Doyle's naïveté, gradually replaced by a wariness as he gets tangled in Wade's misdemeanors. Leslie Hope’s character serves as a strong and groundbreaking role during this time, and she magnificently adds a poignant touch to the story, contributing a brilliant performance.

The film's strength lies in its atmospheric setting; The Kansas backdrop paints a visually and emotionally stirring portrait of the rural heartland. The cinematography brilliantly captures the wide expanse of the Kansas plains—the endless flatlands, dilapidated farms, and rundown small towns—reflecting the bleakness and despair of the characters' lives. Equally significant, the film's score creates a nostalgic aura, accentuating the intense emotional canvas of the narrative.

Kansas is not your typical good guys versus bad guys story. Instead, it portrays the struggle of the average American in a time of despair, demonstrating how far one may go to ensure their survival. Director David Stevens deliberately blurs the moral boundaries, forcing its audience to question the very essence of right and wrong. It addresses themes of friendship, desperation, love and moral compromise—all set against the backdrop of the gritty American Midwest. This lends the story a palpable sense of authenticity, underscored by the hardships the two protagonists face.

Without giving too much away, Kansas leaves viewers on an emotional precipice, questioning the decisions made in despair and the price we pay for the sense of belonging and survival. The film keeps you guessing until the end, making for an intriguing and compelling watch.

In conclusion, Kansas is a well-crafted drama, with excellently portrayed characters, genuine American drama, and an engaging storyline that keeps you on toes. The film offers more than a compelling narrative; it provides an introspective look into the harsh realities of life, the essence of friendships, and the unyielding spirit of survival. Though it might not be as acclaimed as some of its contemporaries, Kansas is a must-watch for fans of raw, emotional storytelling and incredible performances by its talented cast. It's one of those films that leave a lasting impression—a journey that fervently carries you along, only to leave you pondering long after the credits roll.

Kansas is a Drama, Thriller, Crime, Romance movie released in 1988. It has a runtime of 108 min.. Critics and viewers have rated it moderate reviews, with an IMDb score of 5.5. It also holds a MetaScore of 35.

How to Watch Kansas

Where can I stream Kansas movie online? Kansas is available to watch and stream, buy on demand, download at Amazon Prime, Apple TV Channels, MGM+, FuboTV, The Roku Channel Free, Apple TV, Amazon, EPIX NOW. Some platforms allow you to rent Kansas for a limited time or purchase the movie for downloading.

David Stevens
Matt Dillon, Andrew McCarthy
Kansas is available on .