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The Crossing Guard back to product details

A larded skeleton
12345678910
written by rarcher February 17, 2004 - 1:35 PM PST
3 out of 5 members found this review helpful
Sean Penn takes the thinnest of premises - the father of a girl killed by a drunk driver wants revenge when that killer's released from prison - and pads it out to feature-length. Trouble is, all the padding's bad.

You can almost hear Penn thinking - aha! I'll switch things up and make the killer sympathetic and the father a drunken lout! It's a stale device that does its work too well. I was left wondering how a character as gentle as David Morse's guilt-wracked con could inspire a killing rage in Nicholson (whose daughter's death was, after all, accidental), and how anyone in their right mind could stand to be around Nicholson for more than ten seconds. He's such a convincingly poisonous human being that it's difficult to imagine him caring so much, so many years later, about the death of his little girl. (Penn does not make the case that the daughter's death could have changed a basically decent man so drastically.)

The script is almost uniformly awful, although the movie's headliners (particularly Anjelica Huston) give it a run for its money. Some of the weirdest lines come out of the mouth of the killer's pre-prison buddy, who's (I think) supposed to sound worldly and cynical but instead, with his mingled psychobabble and crude profanity, sounds schizophrenic.

Other peculiarities: what, exactly, does Penn mean to suggest by naming his sweet-tempered drunk driver after John Wilkes Booth? Are we actually meant to believe that a soul-wrenching relationship develops between Booth and the equally oddly-named Jojo (played by Robin Wright Penn) in the course of two days? And what the heck is Robbie Robertson doing in this movie?

12345678910

(Average 6.43)
47 Votes
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