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
Sean Penn is a great actor, the best of his generation, so it would seem a bit much to think that he would be a great director. This is what I had in mind when I went to see 'The Indian Runner'. I couldn't be more wrong. Featuring great performances all around, Penn manages to succeed on almost every level. Bold, moving, tough, full of tender sadness, this film is a unique take on brotherhood and loss. Penn proves that he is not only an amazing director, but he is also a very brave screenwriter. The issues he chooses to feature are far from safe and he treats his characters so tenderly, even if they are broken beyond repair, that demonstrates a fascinating voice of his own, something very rare in a debut film. His latest film,'The Last Face', is facing terrible reviews but that doesn't mean Penn isn't a courageous artist. Using his fierce need for truth on what it means to love, to suffer, to exist, we might live long enough to see Sean Penn deliver his masterpiece. But even if we don't, we will always have 'The Indian Runner', and that's no small deal.
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