Albany, New York, Halloween, 1938. Francis Phelan and Helen Archer are bums, back in their birth city. She was a singer on the radio, he a major league pitcher. Death surrounds them: she's sick, a pal has cancer, he digs graves at the cemetery and visits the grave of his infant son whom he dropped; visions of his past haunt him, including ghosts of two men he killed. That night, out drinking, Helen tries to sing at a bar. Next day, Fran visits his wife and children and meets a grandson. He could stay, but decides it's not for him. Helen gets their things out of storage and finds a hotel. Amidst their mistakes and dereliction, the film explores their code of fairness and loyalty.Written by
Jack Nicholson usually relies on his quirky mannerisms and catch phrases; in this movie he shows his acting talents in a more serious manner. This movie is a brutal look at street people in the late 1930s. Meryl Streep immerses herself into her part as usual. This movie is harsh, cold and depressing. And the running time almost pushes two and a half hours long. I honestly don't know what they could have left out to make it shorter. Once is enough for this one. It will take a while for you to get your mind off of the abundance of hardship and sadness.
Nicholson and Streep are joined with a solid, diverse cast that includes Carroll Baker, Michael O'Keefe, Tom Waits, Nathan Lane and Fred Gwynne.
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