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 »
A great melodrama in a small town during the seventies about two grown-up brothers; Joe (David Morse), is married and a deputy sheriff who seems to be highly devoted to his job. Frank (Viggo Mortensen), who is the younger one of the pair, comes back from Vietnam even though he has the habit of being a troublemaker.
Morse and Mortensen are nothing short of excellent in their performances and are backed up by a solid supporting cast (Valerina Gorlino, Patricia Arquette, Dennis Hopper, Sandy Dennis, and Charles Bronson). Out of the bunch, Bronson is the one to watch here as the boys' quiet and solemn father and he treats it to perfection. In one scene, he tells Joe while they're sitting out on the porch that he was wrong about Joe marrying Maria (Gorlino), who is Mexican.
There another surprise that makes the film more compelling to watch is that it's the directing and writing debut of actor Sean Penn. The movie was inspired by the Bruce Springsteen song that's called "Highway Patrolman".
Anthony Richmond's cinematography is extroadinary and the musical score by the late Jack Nitzsche is very solid.
"The Indian Runner" presented a rare and very interesting question to me: "Why doesn't any movie director make a film that shows the two sides (bright and dark) of the director themself?"
In conclusion, this movie is intelligent and seriously moving. And it shows that Penn can write and direct beside act.
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