The Films of Sean Penn
The Indian Runner
The Crossing Guard (November 10/07)
Thoroughly uneven yet mostly compelling, The Crossing Guard casts Jack Nicholson as Freddy Gale - an alcoholic jeweler who decides to avenge his daughter's tragic death by shooting the drunk driver responsible (David Morse's John Booth). Filmmaker Sean Penn has infused the proceedings with a low-key, downright somber sensibility that admittedly suits the material quite well, although one can't help but question his continued use of certain overtly self-conscious visual elements (ie an egregious reliance on slow motion cinematography). And although Penn has certainly managed to elicit stellar performances from his entire cast, there's simply no denying that there's a sporadic artificiality to his dialogue that ultimately dulls the impact of more than a few sequences. That said, it's awfully difficult to overlook the impact of some of The Crossing Guard's individual moments - with an intense confrontation between Freddy and his ex-wife (Angelica Huston) possessing precisely the sort of electricity that's sorely missing from the rest of the film.
Into the Wild