The Crossing Guard (S. Penn, 1995)
I don’t know whether this cross between Cassavetes and Michael Mann is brilliant or ridiculous. Honestly, I want to love this. Penn’s tale of two men – one who is getting out of jail after spending time for killing a little girl while drunk driving, and the other the girl’s father who intends to kill the first man – features an almost uncomfortable but poetic amount of emotional truths. There’s a good hour or so of fantastic low-key drama where the contrast of the drunk driver’s reunion with society and a blossoming romance with the father’s complete deterioration is amazingly scripted, acted, and edited together. Everything was so awkward and smooth all at the same time. Up through the point where drunk driver stands in his trailer, at night, with his sunglasses on, calling to the father character (who isn’t even in the vicinity), it’s a perfect mix of many of the things I love in movies.
Then the last 20 minutes takes a huge shift in tone and style. It’s not bad on its own, but it’s such a strange and sudden change that I’m not entirely sure it works. But the nighttime chase, absent of words and accompanied by 80s-esque music, is still a great little segment of film. I think I can forgive the oddities, and that probably means I really liked this, but it took me a bit to come around on it. 8.25/10