The Crossing Guard

A veritable film festival of macho self-pity from actor-turned-writer/director Sean Penn, adapting a novel by David Rabe. One tender-tough alcoholic blowhard (Jack Nicholson at his most insufferable, allowed to cry at regular intervals for Oscar consideration), a divorced jewelry store owner who hangs out in strip joints like a Cassavetes hero, is determined to kill the hit-and-run driver who killed his daughter years before and is now emerging from prison. (David Morse, who plays the driver, gives a relatively sharp and understated performancefor me the only bearable thing in the movie). Wallowing in pretension, the movie even tries pornographically to milk our awareness of Nicholson and Angelica Huston’s old relationship when their characters converse as a former couple. With Robin Wright and Piper Laurie. (JR)

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