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 »
When Jerry reads Chrissy a bedtime story, it is supposed to be night time (in fact in the next scene, when Jerry goes outside, it is dark); however, bright sunlight can clearly be seen coming through the cracks around the window blind. 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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