Boston University History professor Rolfe Whitehouse tells of the events leading up to the unexplained but not totally surprising disappearance of his older troubled brother, Wade Whitehouse. Wade, Rolfe and their sister Lena grew up in small town Lawford in upstate New Hampshire, where Wade and their parents, Glen and Sally Whitehouse, still lived. Wade was the town's police officer, in addition to having a multitude of side jobs directed his way by businessman and town selectman Gordon LaRiviere, in order to supplement his meager income. Wade was living on the edge emotionally. Long divorced from his since married second ex-wife, Lillian Horner, who moved to the city following the divorce, Wade had only infrequent visitation rights to his and Lillian's adolescent daughter, Jill Whitehouse, who seemed to love her father only because he was her father, but who seemed to see their visits solely as obligations rather than wants. Because of the animosity in his and Lillian's break-up, ...Written by
For what is considered a small, independent film, this movie is packed with brilliant performances by two great actors. James Coburn is the dark, angry patriarch of an abusive household, whose abuse and anger are inherited by his son(Nolte). The story is told by the youngest brother (played mainly in voice-over and a small cameo by Willem Dafoe), and traces the events of a small town murder investigation that leads to the mental collapse of Nolte's cop character. The film weaves us through a buffet of sub-plots and bit characters (including a nice appearance by Sissy Spacek), which is at times whish-washed. However the tone and style of the film are quite fresh and unique.
Penned and directed by Paul Schrader, who will probably always be known for writing "Taxi Driver", the film is a stylish take of what is most likely a much better novel. The tone is cold and dark, and serves as the perfect backdrop for the anger and isolation of the two "male" characters. In my opinion, the voice-over narration takes away from the feeling the picture leaves, basically serving the purpose to tell us what to feel. The images and performances on the screen do a fine job in dong that on it's own, without re-enforcment. On a whole, the film is powerful and moving, and is a great look into the heart and soul of lives that are truely tortured. I would recommend this film if for no other reason than to see the brilliant performances of James Coburn (Oscar winner) and Nick Nolte (Oscar nominee).
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