An intensely sad film about two brothers who cannot overcome their opposite perceptions of life. One brother sees and feels bad in everyone and everything, subsequently he is violent, antisocial and unable to appreciate or enjoy the good things which his brother desperately tries to point out to him. Frank understands the atrocities of life as a big picture; Joe does not. Joe is content to enjoy smaller pleasures: children, family, routine. Joe mistakenly believes he can straighten his little brother out and convince him that life is good. Frank is a cursed man. He is cut between his love for his brother and his repulsion at self-indulgent contentment. The result is a painful story of heartbreak, heartache, disappointment, despair, and the tragic side of love. Written by
The prison tattoo on Frank's neck reads 'Christene'. This is presumably in tribute to actor Viggo Mortensen's wife at the time, punk singer Exene Cervenka, whose real name is Christene. See more »
During the "mirror" scene, the "from behind" shot and the "mirror" shot don't match. (This actually makes sense, given that the camera would have been visible from the angle the scene is presented.) See more »
Brilliant directorial debut from Sean Penn featuring superb performances from Morse and Mortensen.
Few actors who move over to directing have done so with as much success (artistically) as Sean Penn. John Cassavetes, a major source of inspiration to Penn, did so in the past, and Penn is one of the very few to follow in his footsteps who could possibly end up rivalling him as a maker of complex and haunting character based dramas. 'The Indian Runner' was Penn's directorial debut, and it is an extremely impressive achievement. Inspired by Springsteen's song 'Highway Patrolman' (from his underrated 'Nebraska' album from the early 1980s), it is a slow, almost hypnotic look at two brothers with totally different world views and their attempts to come to terms with each other. The siblings are played by David Morse ('Twelve Monkeys') and Viggo Mortensen ('The Prophecy'), and both performances are superb, and career high points. Mortensen is now a major movie star due to his involvement in the 'Lord Of The Rings' trilogy, but for his best acting work look no further than here. The rest of the movie features a first rate supporting cast which includes Valeria Golina ('Rain Man') and Patricia Arquette ('True Romance') as the brother's respective love interests, and veterans Dennis Hopper ('Blue Velvet') and Charles Bronson ('Death Wish'), testament to the respect Penn has in the acting community, I'd say. Bronson, who plays the father, puts in an uncharacteristically subdued performance, one of his best ever. Also keep an eye out for Benicio Del Toro ('The Usual Suspects') in a small cameo, and Penn's mother Eileen Ryan ('At Close Range'). This movie may not be to everyone's taste, but I was knocked out by it. Easily one of the most overlooked dramas of the 1990s. Highly recommended.
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