I spent over a decade watching and reviewing films for my job at MTVEurope. Even before and since I voraciously consume cinema of truly allkinds as a passion, I don't care about genre or even subject, only thata work is honest, inspired, effective. As with any art, of course. <br><br>I saw The Indian Runner at its Cannes film festival debut in 1991 andleft the Grand Palais screening speechless. Where to start? We oftenhear about the usual checklist of script, acting, cinematography,editing, music, and so on, and of course all are stellar here. But it'sthe magic of the mix of all these and so many more subtleties about theexperience of this film that makes it not just a terrific, achinglybeautiful thing, moving, illuminating, but, I believe, having revisitedit so many times over the last thirteen years (like so very few othersamong the hundreds seen once), one that is important and bound for abelated re- positioning as a cinematic gem in the history books of thefuture.<br><br>Cassavetes is clearly a major force behind this in the best possibleway; he'd have stood up and applauded the way Penn took his spirit, hisopenness and gave it a more cinematic scope, color, pace, size, withoutcompromising his own direct gaze on the human condition. Before thisfilm Cassavetes' huge contribution had not been properly picked up, thebaton in some respects still dangling where the late auteur had left ityears back. In Indian Runner Penn points the way forward for this boldtone of cinematic voice (in a way to my mind even more clear than inhis subsequent The Crossing Guard and The Pledge). The moment at thestart of the film when Joe's dead victim's father begins singing a worksong at the police station still stands out as the revelation that thismovie had its own palette. I could go on and on but I'd probablybore... even ME (like Frank, no?).<br><br>What struck me in Cannes and forever since is how this massiveachievement was so overlooked by other critics and then the public. Ifelt I was simply out of step but never wavered in my commitment tothe film as a private cause which I'm pleased to say everyone I'vetalked into seeing it has agreed during exciting post-mortems. Also, aswith great works in general, I notice it only gets better with repeatedvisits over the years. And seeing the comments about it on this sitehas cheered me up no end. I'm not alone!<br><br>It's one thing for a film to endure; another entirely for it to emergefrom obscurity years after it was made and left aside. That verytrajectory, likely, it seems now, for The Indian Runner, is going tobecome one of its many very special qualities. Conversations about itssimple and complex strengths are gaining a new dimension with this lookinto what it was that made it so inaccessible to most of its viewersfor its first decade and what it is and will be that finally unmasksthe gem that until now was so oddly neglected. Suddenly it's on DVD andpeople are discussing it. Could it be good taste or whatever you callthis kind of appreciation is on the rise? Wow. Reasons to be cheerfulindeed. <br><br>And for those of us who first came across Viggo Mortenson here, imaginehow itchy it made us sitting through his fine but passionless Lord ofthe Rings!<br><br>Here's to poetry, vision, and honesty about pain and life withoutjudgment. Lord knows it's rare these days.
The Indian Runner
The Indian Runner
An intensely sad film about two brothers who cannot overcome their opposite perceptions of life. One brother sees and feels bad in everyone and everything, subsequently he is violent, antisocial and unable to appreciate or enjoy the good things which his brother desperately tries to point out to him. Frank understands the atrocities of life as a big picture; Joe does not. Joe is content to enjoy smaller pleasures: children, family, routine. Joe mistakenly believes he can straighten his little brother out and convince him that life is good. Frank is a cursed man. He is cut between his love for his brother and his repulsion at self-indulgent contentment. The result is a painful story of heartbreak, heartache, disappointment, despair, and the tragic side of love.
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