Indian Runner [1991]

Sean Penn announced his retirement from acting, then wrote and directed this emotionally raw, somewhat sprawling film, suggested by Bruce Springsteen's song "Highway Patrolman." David Morse is the title character, an upstanding citizen and peace officer who tries to help his troubled--and troublesome--brother (Viggo Mortensen), recently returned from Vietnam. The brother and his girlfriend (Patricia Arquette) have bad news written all over them--but Morse does what he can to be protector, to no avail. Penn, whose model was John Cassavetes, favors long scenes that draw intense emotions from his cast, which includes Charles Bronson (in an unusually low-key role), Sandy Dennis, and Valeria Golino. But it's as depressing as Springsteen's song. --Marshall Fine

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