Bad Lieutenant [1992]

Director: Abel Ferrara
Stars: Harvey Keitel
Genre: Crime, Drama
Rating: NC-17
Runtime: 96 minutes

Proving that he may be the most fearless actor of his or any other generation, Harvey Keitel gives an amazing, no-holds-barred performance in director Abel Ferrara's uncompromising 1992 film about a New York cop on the edge of self-annihilation. The film's title is meant to be taken literally: Keitel's character has no redeeming values whatsoever, save for his desperate need for redemption. Leonard Maltin's Movie & Video Guide is correct in calling this an "over-the-top Catholic guilt movie," but it's been made with such conviction that Ferrara and Keitel transcend the sheer unpleasantness of the material to give it a kind of tragic divinity. Here's a character so vile and corrupted that he consumes or re-sells the drugs he confiscates, but when he's assigned to investigate the brutal rape of a nun who refuses to press charges, he feels that this is his opportunity to redeem his rotten soul. Deservedly rated NC-17 due to its rough content and a frontal nude scene that even Keitel's most loyal fans could do without, this film tends to divide viewers into love-it-or-hate-it categories, but few could deny its raw power and the deeply anguished humanity that Keitel brings to his role. Whatever your reaction may be, few would deny this is an unforgettable film. --Jeff Shannon

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