Directed by Pat O’Connor (Cal), this picture tells the story of a shy and depressed Englishman who yearns to become a wild and crazy American. Daniel Day Lewis is Henderson Dores, an art expert living in New York City who is sent to Georgia to acquire a newly surfaced Renoir from Loomis Gagne (Harry Dean Stanton), an eccentric millionaire. In the Big Apple, Henderson can’t tell an ordinary citizen from a mugger; in the South, he runs into even more difficult judgment calls.
Scripted by William Boyd from his 1985 novel, Stars and Bars depicts through a series of misfortunes how Henderson learns to open up. Although he loses the painting, his job, and his fiancée, the Englishman finds a new sense of self-confidence and the love of a tough New York cookie (Joan Cusack). The comedy elements in this film are strained, but it works as a portrait of how one man forges a new personality while some terrible things are happening to him.