7.2/10
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54 user 21 critic

The Indian Runner (1991)

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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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1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
Frank Roberts
...
...
Dorothy
...
...
Mrs. Roberts
...
Caesar
...
Randall
Enzo Rossi ...
Raffael
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)
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Storyline

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 kwedgwood@hotmail.com

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

|

Language:

Release Date:

20 September 1991 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Indian Runner  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

$7,000,000 (estimated)

Gross:

$191,125 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The box office failure of this film caused its Japanese backers, NHK Enterprises, to cease getting involved in film production. See more »

Goofs

After the chase scene near the end of the film between Joe in the police car and Frank in the Buick, Joe turns off the red police lights, then the car's headlamps and steps out of the car and stands next to it. In the final scene we see Joe still standing next to the police car but the car's headlamps have mysteriously come on again. See more »

Quotes

Dorothy: [Staring a bearded lady smoking in a corner] That woman's got a beard.
See more »


Soundtracks

RED TEXAS SUNSET
Written by Bud McGuire
Performed by Paulette Tyler
Courtesy of All Nations Productions
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User Reviews

Brilliant directorial debut from Sean Penn featuring superb performances from Morse and Mortensen.
15 January 2003 | by (Perth, Australia) – See all my reviews

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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