At Close Range

1986, Movie, R, 111 mins

Review

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A chilling and realistic crime film, AT CLOSE RANGE features strong performances by Christopher Walken and Sean Penn. The film follows fresh-out-of-high-school Brad Whitewood, Jr. (Penn), as he struggles against the boredom of his rural existence. Living in a run-down house with his half-brother, Tommy (Christopher Penn, Sean's brother), his grandmother (Eileen Ryan, the Penn boys' mother), and his mother (Millie Perkins), Brad coasts along until two events change his life forever: he falls in love with Terry (Mary Stuart Masterson), and his wayward father (Walken) wanders back on the scene.

Relentlessly grim, AT CLOSE RANGE offers a frightening glimpse at the dark side of American life and poses disturbing questions about family ties. Unfortunately, although director James Foley handles the performances with skill, he also indulges in too many flashy directorial pyrotechnics, muting the emotional impact. Writer Nicholas Kazan (son of director Elia) based his script on the Johnston family murders in Pennsylvania in 1978. leave a comment

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