The night he retires as a Nevada sheriff, Jerry Black pledges to the mother of a murdered girl that he will find the killer. Jerry doesn't believe the police arrested the right man; he discovers this is the third incident in the area in the recent past with victims young, blond, pretty, and small for their age. So he buys an old gas station in the mountains near the crimes in order to search for a tall man who drives a black station wagon, gives toy porcupines as gifts, and calls himself the wizard: clues from a drawing by the dead girl. Jerry's solitary life gives way to friendship with a woman and her small, blond daughter. Has Jerry neglected something that may prove fatal? Written by
The picture was a passion project for writer/director Sean Penn and actor Jack Nicholson. Unfortunately, the screenplay was turned down by every major studio in Hollywood. Producer Elie Samaha, and his studio Franchise Pictures, who specialized in picking up screenplays in turnaround, quickly pounced on the material and signed up Penn and Nicholson for a reduced fee. The pair agreed as long as Penn could have complete creative and casting control. See more »
As Jerry cleans Lori's face with a cotton wool swab, it is blood red from her lip, but as he takes his hand away the swab is clean. See more »
Unsatisfying endings usually make for box-office bombs and I suspect this one bombed, too. I don't particularly care for them, myself. I'd rather feel good at the end of the film, but I really liked this movie in a strange kind of way. It's weird but it's original and it stayed with me for several days afterward. On the second viewing, knowing what to expect, it didn't haunt me but it was worth that second look....and probably a third one in a few years, too. I didn't care for some of the anti-Christian tones in here, however. That is my only complaint of the movie. A key character - a minister - is made to look evil (typical film-world bias).
The rest of the film has a lot to offer: a great performance by Jack Nicholson; a very nice music score; good cinematography; interesting characters and a different, almost-shocking twist at the end.
The best part of the film is Nicholson. As usual, Jack is very interesting, playing a low-key role here. The story might be too slow for a lot of folks but it kept my interest all the way. On the second viewing, I appreciated the music even more - a great soundtrack!
If you are looking for a crime film that is different, check this out, but don't blame me if you don't like the ending.
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