Video Review

The Indian Runner

MPAA Rating: R
EW's GRADE
C+

Details Movie Rated: R; Genres: Drama, Mystery and Thriller; With: David Morse and Viggo Mortensen; Distributor: Columbia Pictures

Sean Penn's first film as a director has all of the actor's itchy Method hypersensitivity. That's good and bad. Good because, despite the fact that The Indian Runner is based on a Springsteen song that resonates with Cain and Abel mythos (Nebraska's ''Highway Patrolman''), you're never sure which way the movie will dodge next. Bad because Penn has indulged in artsy longueurs, downer dialogue, and ersatz-Fellini freaks. David Morse (St. Elsewhere) and Viggo Mortensen (Young Guns II) are splendid as two Midwestern brothers — one a cop, the other a sneering bad boy — but Valeria Golino (Hotshots!) and Patricia Arquette have little to do as their women: This is a guy flick. What makes it worth a rental, though, is Penn's maverick visual sense, an awkward, funky eye poetry that refreshingly breaks clear of the Hollywood norm. C+

Originally posted Jun 05, 1992 Published in issue #121 Jun 05, 1992 Order article reprints