Vile, perverse, depraved, this film is nevertheless a 70s noir masterpiece. In it, Sam Peckinpah indulges his nihilism and misogyny freely — and isn’t misogyny the ultimate form of nihilism? — and through the medium of his protagonist, brilliantly played by Warren Oates, feels sorry for himself in the bargain. It’s like the later works of Hemingway — a study of alcoholic despair seen from the inside through the eyes of genius. It’s unsettling, fascinating, moving and infuriating all at the same time. The film is also partly a love song to the real Mexico, as it is in between the tourist destinations, and a riff on the romantic theme of Mexico as locus of the dark side of the American unconscious — a theme also found in the works of B. Traven and Malcom Lowry and Tennessee Williams, all of whom are referenced here. It’s Peckinpah’s most personal film and maybe his best, too — a sick work of art but a work of art all the same, with an absolutely stunning performance by Isela Vega as the earthy whore-madonna and voice of reason the Oates character will not heed . . . until it’s too late to matter.