The Indian Runner (1991)

R  |   |  Drama  |  20 September 1991 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.2/10 from 6,568 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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1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »



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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?


Burt Reynolds turned down the role of Mr. Roberts. See more »


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 »


Joe: With your record you could do a year on this.
Frank: What can I say, I fucked up! I get in a violent way, look around a room, I wanna bust it all up!
See more »


Written by Carmino Zapata
Performed by Grupos Rio Rojo
Courtesy of Aid to the Arts of Nicaragua
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User Reviews

4 February 2003 | by (England) – See all my reviews

The only reason I wanted to see The Indian Runner was because of the stunning multi-talented Viggo Mortensen. But I have to admit that this movie touched me. When it finished I sat for about half an hour just thinking 'why?'

The movie moves along quite slowly but I think it was meant to. Penn wanted us to see, feel and identify with the characters. To witness the bond between the two brothers and Frank's struggle to tame himself.

And we do. Viggo shows amazing range as an actor here and is easily one of the best films he has ever done. We see Frank go from relaxed to angry to livid to sorrowful and are drawn in to his tortured soul. Mortensen makes us want to feel for the character and we desperately want him to be happy. His emotions evoke a wide range of emotions in ourselves. His performance is nothing short of astounding. We never know if we are meant to hate Frank or feel sorry for him but we gradually begin to love him and want to understand why he is so angry with the world due to Mortensen's performance. Where was the Oscar this year???

The rest of the cast shine as well. David Morse is utterly convincing as a man trying to salvage the last remains of his disintergrating family and the actress who plays his wife is equally good.

All I can say is WATCH IT!

12 of 16 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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