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
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 »
Thin story concerns two small town brothers and their struggles over family honor. David Morse is the responsible, straight-laced cop and 'good' brother; Viggo Mortensen, the 'bad' boy, is a former soldier and ex-convict. As an actor (particularly in his earliest years), Sean Penn seems to have modulated his performances under the Method. Turning first-time writer and director for this arty, obtuse drama, he works his script and characters out through the same methodical process, slowing the pacing down to a crawl (ostensibly so we can catch every nuance and inflection). This approach might be fascinating if there were three-dimensional characters to care about, but photogenic Morse and Mortensen aren't really convincing as siblings. Worse, we expect more from prominently-billed veterans Charles Bronson and Sandy Dennis, who hardly get a chance to come through with anything interesting. The picture is balky with turgid sequences, a wobbly narrative and confusing editing (always slanted to point up the artistic excesses). Penn's tricks with the camera show off a talented eye, yet they are mostly an irritation. *1/2 from ****
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