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4.5 out of 5 stars11
4.5 out of 5 stars
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on 25 May 2005
I was browsing through channels in my sofa, when suddenly a movie was starting, saw the name Viggo Mortensen in the credits and gave it a shot.
I was very surprised with this movie. A simple story, but done in a way that touches you inside. It's one of those movies with a simple plot, small scenery that brings so much more to it.
Viggo is at his best here, in fact i think this is his best performance ever. He really is a great actor and i hope he gets more attention in the future (specially after the LOTR trilogy and Hidalgo).
Patricia Arquette has one of her best performances and David Morse is perfect as the "good brother". I dont know if this movie came out in cinemas, at least in my country it didnt, but you have some oscar winning performances here.
Sean Penn directs it and shows he's so much talented in the screen as behind the cameras. A wonderful movie, not to be missed, i highly recomend it.
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on 6 March 2004
The film was consistant in its excellent acting, with a very interesting and poigiant story line, which although quite a familiar idea of bad brother versus good brother, was still a pleasure to watch.
As can be seen by the certificate it is obviously not a family film and may not appeal to all. However, the superb acting, dramatic and at times rather beautiful storyline, certainly compels the audience to watch on. The film seems to have been directed with sensitivity, and good understanding of the issues raised concerning the plot line. In summary, it starts well has a good plot line throughout with an equally good ending. I urge you to watch on.
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on 6 June 2012
In his writing and directing debut, Sean Penn delivers a profound picture of two very different brothers, one a cop with a loving family, the other a lawbreaking Vietnam vet. Both coming to terms with each other and trying to maintain the bond they shared as children.
WHAT CAN I SAY?Greatest thing about the film is that it doesn't try too hard. With symbolism, with drama, it lets the people do their work and what happens is consistently interesting. It has a great soundtrack and more importantly music is used well within the film. it is almost hypnotic look at two brothers with totally different world views and their attempts to come to terms with each other,they struggle to reconcile their different paths. Like the story of Cain and Abel, one brother is the good, and the other is the unlucky and revengeful. Joe wants to unite his family and diminish hardships between family members while Frank, who has not recovered from adolescent struggles and fighting in Vietnam, still wants to play games and hurt those around him. The siblings are played by David Morse (The Green Mile ) and Viggo Mortensen (A History of Violence), and both performances are superb, The rest of the movie features a first rate supporting cast which includes Valeria Golina (Hot Shots!) and Patricia Arquette (Stigmata ) as the brother's respective love interests, and veterans Dennis Hopper ('Blue Velvet') and Charles Bronson ('Death Wish')he's performance is unbelievable who plays the father, puts in an uncharacteristically subdued performance, one of his best ever.and the lovely Sandy Dennis(Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?) Also keep an eye out for Benicio Del Toro ('The Usual Suspects') in a small cameo, and Penn's mother Eileen Ryan ('At Close Range').this movie is intelligent and seriously moving. And it shows that Penn can write and direct beside act.
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on 11 March 2009
Having originally had the good fortune to have seen the film at the cinema in 1991, it has one of those films that stayed with me. I must start by emphasising that it is not light viewing, but the effort brings rich reward. I watched it again for only the second time last night, some 17 or so yrs later, and found it no less powerful. The acting across the board was superb and it had many stand out scenes. I think ( & this won't spoil the film ) the scene round Joe's family table with Charles Bronson has to be among the most natural and believable committed to celluloid. The photography was spot on. There were countless frames that just said amazing. Even now I'm remembering many well filmed & acted parts that linger. On a note of query, I seemed to recall that there was a scene by the river where Frank's girlfriend jumped in and has to be rescued to the sounds of Janis Joplin "Summertime" The scenes on the version I saw were of Frank leaving work ???? Any info to put my mind straight or tell me what movie I'm confusing it with would be appreciated.
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on 8 March 2013
Beautiful little indie film - poinagnt, touching, warmheated, indie-flick, supurb acting from Viggo Mortensn. A highly hidden gem! Serene and brilliant
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on 20 May 2015
There's quite a lot wrong from with the film on a technical level - though it is fifteen years' old (not bad for a young director, and there are some nice scenes...)

A beautifully-mannered performance from Charles Bronson, and it's always nice to see Patricia Arquette (though I hope she is getting more to eat these days.)
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on 14 November 2013
It's a classic with some great performances - highly recommended.
I am sure if Sean Penn made it again now he is older he would make a few changes as it's quite naive in places but that just adds to the charm.
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on 24 September 2007
It is a marvelous film for many reasons and it has many meaningful interpretations. The first we can think of is of course the effect of the Vietnam War on a normal man. It made him someone whose desire to kill, whose need to kill could never be controlled and dominated. Nothing could keep him within the limits of normalcy, that is to say a violence that is purely symbolical or superficial. His desire was not to punch a few noses and be done with it, but it was to kill, and I repeat that was a need for him to be satisfied in order to survive. The second line is that of the two brothers. One chose to be a cop and he killed legally. That's not in anyway easy, but at least you can come to terms with it: you saved your life from someone who wanted to kill you, and that was legal. You can wonder why he shot to kill, right in the heart, but he was entirely justified to shoot, so why not to kill? The other chose to go to Vietnam and there he killed but it was never to really save his life, never really justified because it was not self defense on his own turf but aggression in a foreign country, and the killing was not exactly shooting at combatants, but more often at women and children. This seems to prove that the desire to kill is in any man, good or bad, and that the only choice you have is to do it legally and morally or not. Vietnam produced twisted, distorted and completely warped personalities for whom killing had become a need, just like alcohol or smoking for others. This leads to a confrontation between the two brothers and the dilemma for the cop who has to arrest or shoot his own brother. He chose differently. The third line is metaphorical. The guilt the cop had built in himself after killing the young chap who was running away and then started to shoot at him can only come out, be retrieved and rehabilitated if in a way or another the need to kill is projected into someone else and that someone else is forced to go away. The guilt has to be entrusted to some Indian runner who will take it away as if it were a message he has to go dump in the ocean or the infinite. But this meaning is metaphorically symbolical of us all. We all have to get rid of this death instinct, and here comes the ending of the film. It is a dream society will let us go without making us pay for that death instinct. And the price is called guilt because we have to repress it and then it will go on lurking in our minds forever. There is no Indian runner for our death instinct, just a repressed guilt that may come out one day, but when and how no one knows.

Dr Jacques COULARDEAU, University Paris Dauphine, University Paris 1 Pantheon Sorbonne & University Versailles Saint Quentin en Yvelines
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on 29 April 2013
great and universal story , "the school of the life", everybody should see this film and also cast is great
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on 13 May 2016
Gripping stuff
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