April 02, 1984 12:00 PM

Debra Winger is a bank teller with an out-of-tune piano, a mother who phones frequently and a future. Mark (Sudden Impact) Keyloun is a pretty-boy tennis instructor with a sideline in cocaine. Their lives are welded by sexual attraction; when Keyloun is murdered, Winger ignores everyone’s advice to stay out of it and searches for explanations. There are no Philip Marlowe voice-overs in this rigorously unromantic movie about the seedy side of Los Angeles. Nor is there any question about who done it. Director-screenwriter James (Urban Cowboy) Bridges instead builds an atmosphere of menace around the random motions of his rootless characters, who bounce about like pin-balls in their hunt for love and money. In a finely modulated performance, Winger is convincing as the middle-class girl who wanders into an outlaw world. As Keyloun’s hopped-up confederate, Darrell (Brainstorm) Larson is frightening and pathetic, and Paul Winfield contributes a fine supporting performance as a wealthy, gay sybarite. But Winger’s real co-star in this beautifully textured film is the city itself. With its sun-saturated pastels and rustling palms, L.A. has never looked more sinister, or more seductive. (R)

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