The Crossing Guard Reviews
"Some lives cross, others collide."
The Crossing Guard is far from a great movie, but it still has its moments of power. This is easily my least favorite Sean Penn directed movie, but the other three I've seen from him were all very good. The story here isn't very original, nor are the characters or anything the characters say. If I was struck by anything while watching this film it was how cardboard cutout everything seemed.
Freddy is a divorced, alcoholic jeweler who has never been able to get over the death of his daughter Emily. Emily was killed by a drunk driver years earlier and Freddy and his then wife Mary end up separating not too long afterwards. Freddy and Mary had two boys together too, but Freddy hasn't been around them much, especially since Mary had gotten a new husband. When the drunk driver is released from prison, Freddy goes to him and tells him he has three years to live. We learn through events that John Booth(the drunk driver) is not a bad guy, and that he is very sorry for what he did. After watching the film for an hour, you'll actually like John and hate Freddy.
The performances were so-so. Jack Nicholson has been much, much better, but he isn't bad. I expected a lot more from him, and this movie, based off of Penn and Nicholson's other work, The Pledge, which was a masterpiece. David Morse is also just okay as John Booth. The women probably give the best performances in the film; those being Anjelica Huston and Robin Wright.
Obviously when you see Sean Penn's name and Jack Nicholson's name, expectations are going to be high. This isn't at all a terrible movie, but it is more bland then you would like. There's a few scenes that make the movie worth watching, but I wouldn't ever say this a must see film. In fact, if you're going to skip any of Sean Penn's directorial outings, make it this one. Overall, I was disappointed with this film as a whole. It could have and should have been so much better.
[color=#696969]Note 1: Morse and John Savage were both in Inside Moves(1979). Morse's character here also might share an unpleasant event with his character from St. Elsewhere.[/color]
[color=#696969]Note 2: Director Sean Penn dedicates the movie to Henry Charles Bukowsky.[/color]
[color=#696969]Note 3: In The Crossing Guard, Mikey & Nicky and The Woodsman, I have been noticing that the only characters who ride city buses are either criminals or ex-cons.[/color]
Freddie Gale is a jeweler that has sworn to get revenge on the drunk driver that killed his daughter. John Booth is released from prison after serving a lengthy sentence for killing a little girl while drunk driving. John suffers from depression as he tries to put his life back together. When John and Freddie's lives cross paths, their worlds collide which may lead to another fatality.
"It only hurts the first time."
Sean Penn, director of The Indian Runner, The Pledge, September 11, Into the Wild, and the upcoming The Comedian, delivers The Crossing Guard. The storyline for this picture, written by Penn, was interesting and contained dynamic characters. The cast delivers awesome performances and includes Jack Nicholson, David Morse, Anjelica Houston, Robin Wright, and John Savage.
"Your guilt is a little too much competition for me. You should let me know when you want to live."
I am a huge Jack Nicholson fan and have been ashamed that I had never seen this picture. This wasn't as epic feeling as I had hoped. This was about as good as Chinatown, in my opinion. Jack Nicholson was his usual compelling self; and overall, this is a must see picture but far from a must own DVD.
"I ride the bus all day long."
The supporting characters (Robin Wright) are wasted with little development. I don't understand if Jack's character is a pimp, jeweler, a guy with lots of money, or what. You never really see what he's all about. The direction is quite messy.
In Penn's second shot at directing he tells the story of a jewelry store owner, Freddy Gale (Nicholson), whose 7 year old daughter was killed by a drunk driver a few years previously. Since the death of his daughter his wife divorced him, his relationship with his son has become non-existent, he has taken to drinking heavily and he blames John Booth (David Morse) the driver of the vehicle who is being released from prison.
Booth himself is trying to get his life back together but has trouble letting himself be happy because of his remorse. Gale confronts Booth shortly after his release with the intentions of killing him but Booth makes a deal with Gale. Booth seems to appreciate the toll his actions have taken on Gale's life and knows what a murder will do too. Booth makes this offer; take 3 days to think it over, if after 3 days Freddy Gale still wants to kill Booth then Booth won't fight back or run.
That is all I will really say about the premise, I like the less is more idea. In regards to the movie itself, I felt this was a very fine movie. The performances of Jack Nicholson, David Morse and Anjelica Houston were outstanding. Penn does a great job in conjuring up mixed emotions and blurring the line between antagonist and protagonist, a theme that I find difficult to pull off but still is often attempted but rarely successful. The movie is thoughtful and emotional and I felt really had perspective. With the subject matter being so difficult and the layers emotions I think Penn pulled it off very well and I think this is his finest movie as a director.
I think some people will be bothered by the slow parts, but that doesn't usually bother me. Also, there is a touch of "lack-of-believability" at times but it is not out of bounds and I don't think it is distracting either. Otherwise get ready to shed a tear because it will almost be impossible not to!