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 »
[Talking to his baby grandson]
Did you know your daddy grew vegetables Raphael? Your daddy was a farmer before he became a po-lice-man.
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This film has deeply affected me. The first time I saw it I had tears pouring down my face throughout. The second time I found myself really getting into it. Sure, you know what it's about from the other reviews. We ask ourselves why Frank isn't content with life. Most of us would feel closer to Joe, but Penn enables us to sympathise with this wretched character of Frank. He's not a nice guy. Myself; I am happy that this film is not necessarily a period piece. It takes a while for you to understand in what context the film is set. What makes this movie so good is that is underlining message remains ambiguous. This is certainly a film that will stand the test of time. It's not about the nation of America during the 70's. It's about the relationship of two brothers, and one just so happens to have come back from Vietnam. It could have been set in 2003 and the underlying message would remain the same. The talent of Penn is in that he never once blames Frank's actions on the Vietnam War. He was a bad kid before the War. I urge everyone to see this movie. You will either sympathise with the characters and understand the underlying message or you will not. I also urge you to open your mind before you see the movie, and if you don't understand it. Think about it for a while longer.
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