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 child murders depicted in the film were loosely based on actual cases that had been worked by Det. Joe Depczynski, the film's technical advisor. However, the cases were not thought to be the work of a single killer, as the film depicted, nor did the real detective come to the same end that Det. Jerry Black did. See more »
This was filmed in British Columbia, which is considerably wetter than the Sierra Nevada, and it shows. The shot of downtown Reno seems to be the only real scene from that region. See more »
Sean Penn proves himself a first-rate director who gets moving, deep performances out of all his actors. And what a supporting cast - in addition to Nicholson (at his most subtle, something he doesn't always do), there's Harry Dean Stanton, Benecio Del Toro, Tom Noonan, Vanessa Redgrave, Robin Wright Penn, the list goes on and on with the best charactor actors around. Del Toro does something completely different once again. The story is very moving and almost at the level of a Greek tragedy. Beautifully shot and edited with good use of score. The best drama I've seen in quite a while.
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