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Crossing Guard, The

Sean Penn

Sean Penn’s confident second film as writer and director marks a welcome return to the kind of meaty, risk-taking work that’s largely been absent from American cinema since the seventies. Jack Nicholson, the star icon of some of that decade’s key movies, turns in a terrific performance as an embittered father who is obsessed with killing the drunk driver who was responsible for his daughter’s death six years ago. Now estranged from his family and taking solace in drink and womanising, the weary Nicholson figure is a physical and emotional wreck, while the ex-con (David Morse) is a wounded but wiser man struggling to come to terms with the suffering he has caused. It’s a powerfully honest film that’s built on solid performances (there’s also a wonderful turn by Angelica Huston as Nicholson’s wife) and a genuine attempt to probe and exorcise the pain of guilt and loss. (U.S.A., 1995. 117 mins.)

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