The Indian Runner (1991)

R  |   |  Drama  |  20 September 1991 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.2/10 from 6,565 users  
Reviews: 53 user | 19 critic

A Vietnam vet comes home to his small town and finds himself in conflict with rules that his brother has vowed to uphold.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Frank Roberts
Mrs. Roberts
Enzo Rossi ...
Harry Crews ...
Mr. Baker
Mrs. Baker
Trevor Endicott ...
Brandon Fleck ...
7-Years-Old Frank Roberts
Kathy Jensen ...
Lady at Carwash
James Devney ...
Deputy #1 (as Jim Devney)


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 wedgwood

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for violence, language, and some drug use | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

20 September 1991 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Indian Runner  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$7,000,000 (estimated)


$191,125 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Sean Penn's directorial debut. See more »


Frank's prison tattoos change position throughout the movie. See more »


Joe: I thought you were done with this shit.
Frank: Well...
Joe: What about Dorothy? What about the baby? Can you touch that?
Frank: Outside party.
Joe: What?
Frank: Outside party. Give me a light.
See more »


Written by George Gershwin, Ira Gershwin and DuBose Heyward
Performed by Janis Joplin and Big Brother and the Holding Company
Courtesy of Columbia Records
By Arrangement with Sony Music Licensing
See more »

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User Reviews

Good character development/weak story
12 April 2000 | by (Ogden Utah) – See all my reviews

Penn takes the time to develop his characters, and we almost care about them. However there are some real problems with the story here, we see no real motivation for the evil brother's behavior, and the time line is screwed up. Supposedly set in 1963, the music is late 60s/early 70s. The references and dialogue is 70s/80s. The potential for a powerful climax presents itself, and Penn allows it to slip away. But even with all these difficulties it is worth the watch, but not great.

4 of 7 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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