11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
HAUNTING AND INTELLIGENT!!!,
This review is from: The Pledge  [DVD] (DVD)
Vaguely reminiscent in tone to Paul Schrader's movie 'Affliction', The Pledge is Sean Penn's third outing as a Director. As with his previous work it is very much a study of human beings, their strengths their weaknesses and their flaws. Beautifully photographed, it is also morally ambiguous and ultimately downbeat portrayal of a good man obsessed with fulfilling a promise and unable to let go of the past in his attempt to give his life meaning.
Opening with an unkempt Jerry Black (Jack Nicholson) apparently rambling incoherently to himself, the rest of the movie is told in flashback, with Jerry returning from a fishing trip and about to start his last day as a police detective. However, when a young boy witnesses a retarded native American man (Beniccio Del Torro) fleeing in the snow and subsequently discovers the body of a young girl, who has been brutally raped and murdered, Jerry, despite his imminent retirement, promises the distraught parents that he will catch whomever is responsible. Later Jerry refuses to believe the murder is an open and shut case, carrying on his own investigation even when the officer in charge of the investigation (Aaron Eckhart) is only too keen to blame it on the now deceased Indian.
Jack Nicholson (who previously collaborated with Sean Penn, on the also excellent Crossing Guard) delivers one of his finest performances, in his subtle portrayal of a good man trying to keep a promise but at a personal cost. And whilst this is far from the type of feel good movie such as 'As Good As It Gets' that won him his last Best Actor Oscar, this is in my opinion a far superior movie and a far superior performance, in that although this haunting movie will not send you to bed with your faith in the human spirit restored, it will make you think and stay with you for much longer than any of your typical Hollywood fare. Also excellent is the supporting cast, especially including a cast against type dowdy single mother, Robin Wright Penn, as well as Aaron Eckhart, Sam Shepard, Beniccio Del Torro, Helen Mirren and Tom Noonan.
The Pledge is a disturbing film but it is beautifully filmed and for this praise must be directed toward Chris Menges (Local Hero) for his beautiful cinematography. Admittedly this is an uncommercial and slow paced movie which certainly wont be to everyone's taste and although some people will be critical of his at times somewhat ponderous style of directing, Sean Penn (dir. The Indian Runner and The Crossing Guard) subtly allows his actors to shine. Penn is as far as I'm concerned, one of America's finest character actors but he can surely now add to his resume the title of, one of America's great young film directors and I highly recommend this very intelligent movie.