A Vietnam vet comes home to his small town and finds himself in conflict with rules that his brother has vowed to uphold.

Director:

Sean Penn

Writer:

Sean Penn
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1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
David Morse ... Joe Roberts
Viggo Mortensen ... Frank Roberts
Valeria Golino ... Maria
Patricia Arquette ... Dorothy
Charles Bronson ... Mr. Roberts
Sandy Dennis ... Mrs. Roberts
Dennis Hopper ... Caesar
Jordan Rhodes ... Randall
Enzo Rossi Enzo Rossi ... Raffael
Harry Crews Harry Crews ... Mr. Baker
Eileen Ryan ... Mrs. Baker
Trevor Endicott Trevor Endicott ... 12-Years-Old Joe Roberts
Brandon Fleck Brandon Fleck ... 7-Years-Old Frank Roberts
Kathy Jensen Kathy Jensen ... Lady at Carwash
James Devney James Devney ... Deputy #1 (as Jim Devney)
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Storyline

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 kwedgwood@hotmail.com

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for violence, language, and some drug use | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Partially filmed in Omaha, Nebraska at the now demolished Delmar Hotel. See more »

Goofs

During the "mirror" scene, the "from behind" shot and the "mirror" shot don't match. (This actually makes sense, given that the camera would have been visible from the angle the scene is presented.) See more »

Quotes

Maria: [to Raffael, holding up a joint she's smoking] Don't ever smoke this stuff in front of the law. You smoke this stuff in front of the law, the law gets upset.
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Connections

Features Gilligan's Island (1964) See more »

Soundtracks

BROTHERS FOR GOOD
Written by Eric Haller
Performed by Eric Haller and Bret Haller
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User Reviews

A rough story told masterfully
29 December 2017 | by NateWatchesCoolMoviesSee all my reviews

I've often argued with myself whether Sean Penn is a better actor or director, but the truth is he's just as captivating a storyteller whether on camera or behind it, and The Indian Runner is a bold testament to the latter, a somber, tragic family drama that leaves the viewer reeling with it's hard luck characters and sorrowful resolutions. Set in the heartlands sometime after the Viet Nam war, Penn's focus is on two brothers who have been at odds with each other years. David Morse's Joe is a farmer turned cop, an even tempered, recent family man with a loving wife (Valeria Golino, what ever happened to her?) and his shit firmly together. Viggo Mortensen's Frank is a volatile, hotheaded veteran, the little brother with a big chip on his shoulder, a fiery temper and wires crossed somewhere deep inside. From the get-go there's tension, and when Frank brings home a naive girl (Patricia Arquette) to start some semblance of a family, trouble really brews. There's hints from director Penn of his own internal turmoil, two wolves that roil against one another represented by the brothers onscreen, and the inevitable violence begotten from the hostile one. It's so strange seeing Mortensen in a role like this, miles removed from not only the stalwart Aragorn we're used to, but from anything else he has ever done in his choosy, sparse career. This is the role of a lifetime for any actor and it's the one he should be remembered for, a maladjusted outsider who rages against civility and can't be controlled, to his own demise and detriment. Morse is always a slow burner, and takes it laconically here, but there's a sadness that burns at the corners of his eyes which the actor exudes achingly well. Arquette captures the stars her character has in her eyes for Frank, and tragically lets them fall in disillusionment when she realizes he's not the man she thought she knew, a splendid arc for the actress to breathe life into. The brother's patriarch is played by a low key, heartbreaking Charles Bronson, probably the last role in which he actually gets to *act*, and not just play a tough guy. He's full of complexity and depth in his brief appearance here, and knocks it out of the park. Dennis Hopper has an extended cameo as an antagonistic bartender, and Benicio Del Toro is apparently somewhere in it as well as he's in the credits, but I honestly couldn't spot him anywhere. The film subtly tackles everything from implied PTSD to biblical references to near mythic aspirations built around a legend that explains the title, but more than anything it's about something as simple as can be: How circumstances shape human beings, how trauma affects us and the ways we interact with each other, what it means to exist and make choices. Penn's fascination with these themes is obvious, skilled and nears profundity in dedication to story and character. A brilliant piece in need of far more exposure than its ever gotten.


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Details

Official Sites:

MGM

Country:

USA | Japan

Language:

English

Release Date:

20 September 1991 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Indian Runner See more »

Filming Locations:

Arlington, Nebraska, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$7,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$34,047, 22 September 1991

Gross USA:

$191,125

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$191,125
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby SR

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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