7.1/10
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58 user 28 critic

The Indian Runner (1991)

Trailer
2:31 | Trailer

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A Vietnam vet comes home to his small town and finds himself in conflict with rules that his brother has vowed to uphold.

Director:

Sean Penn

Writer:

Sean Penn
Reviews
1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
David Morse ... Joe Roberts
Viggo Mortensen ... Frank Roberts
Valeria Golino ... Maria
Patricia Arquette ... Dorothy
Charles Bronson ... Mr. Roberts
Sandy Dennis ... Mrs. Roberts
Dennis Hopper ... Caesar
Jordan Rhodes ... Randall
Enzo Rossi Enzo Rossi ... Raffael
Harry Crews Harry Crews ... Mr. Baker
Eileen Ryan ... Mrs. Baker
Trevor Endicott Trevor Endicott ... 12-Years-Old Joe Roberts
Brandon Fleck Brandon Fleck ... 7-Years-Old Frank Roberts
Kathy Jensen Kathy Jensen ... Lady at Carwash
James Devney James Devney ... Deputy #1 (as Jim Devney)
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Storyline

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. Written by kwedgwood@hotmail.com

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for violence, language, and some drug use | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

MGM

Country:

USA | Japan

Language:

English

Release Date:

20 September 1991 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Indian Runner See more »

Filming Locations:

Arlington, Nebraska, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$7,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$34,047, 22 September 1991

Gross USA:

$191,125

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$191,125
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby SR

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The box office failure of this film caused its Japanese backers, NHK Enterprises, to cease getting involved in film production. See more »

Goofs

When he takes the shotgun out of the patrol car, he racks the action and a shotgun shell flies out and can be seen in mid air. If the shotgun was already loaded, there was no need to rack the action as there was already a round in the chamber. In real life, he should have known there was a round in the chamber because he would have put it there before going on his shift. In real life, ejecting a round would be because of stress in a shooting situation. See more »

Quotes

Dorothy: [Staring a bearded lady smoking in a corner] That woman's got a beard.
See more »


Soundtracks

CABALLITO CHONTALENO
Written by Carmino Zapata
Performed by Grupos Rio Rojo
Courtesy of Aid to the Arts of Nicaragua
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Superb film should be a classic.
25 January 2003 | by mockturtleSee all my reviews

What word better describes this picture than `strong'? Strong characters, strong actors, strong directorial choices. Brilliant writing and a performance that told anyone who saw it that it was only a matter of time before Viggo Mortensen became a somewhat unwieldy household name. Everybody shines, everybody is used more intelligently than they were very often. Valeria Golino didn't have a part this good until `Frida,' Charles Bronson is given room to stretch, Patricia Arquette gives her best performance ever by far (doesn't she look a bit like Robin Wright in this film?), and David Morse is always excellent, I see that he directs TV from his bio, hopefully he'll try a feature soon. Just like `Jesus' Son' another film set around the 60's/70's split, if this film had been made in the time in which it is set it would have been a classic. As it is it hasn't even been released on DVD yet, which is embarrassing. I wasn't the biggest fan of `The Pledge' and actually didn't know that A) Sean Penn had a film like this in him, though I suspected, or that B) he made that film more than 10 years ago.

One false step was using someone giving birth for that scene. We know it isn't Patricia Arquette, it is unnerving to watch someone give birth even if you know them but especially when you have some random person splayed out in front of the camera. Immediately I was taken out of it, wondering who would volunteer to have a baby for a film. Oh, and you never ever really believe it's 1963.

Certain shots are eerily reminiscent of the haunted and empty America we see in Philip Ridley's `The Reflecting Skin,' a Viggo Mortensen film from the year before.

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. The film is even more poignant considering that it come from the famously volatile, occasionally traditional occasionally misanthropic but always mercurial Penn.


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