revenge by shooting the ielon. Masculinity in crisis and the value oi

a single human liie are the weighty

themes with which writer-director

Penn does battle: Morse iinds the

period oi incarceration has allowed

him to come to terms with himseli and

his past in a way that llicholson, who

gives a raging howl oi a perionnance

- his best in years - has not.

. Penn is prone to over-emphasis, with

i uneasy purple patches in the dialogue

; and an ovenreliance on the stylistic

tics oi early 70s American cinema, but

his achievement is not to be

underestimated. You can ieel his

! struggle to shape the ionn in such a

! way as to deal with the sheer weight

oi emotional pain the piece seeks to

I address. The Crossing Guard certainly

has its ilaws, but in a way, someone

like Tarantino has yet to make a illm

i with this much truth and compassion.

. (Trevor Johnston)



' MALE IDENTITY onAMA THE cnossmc comm

The iirst thing you should know about Sean Penn’s directorial iollow-up to the promising Indian Runner is that the eponymous crossing guard is nothing to do with border patrols, but more or less translates into English as ‘lollipop man’. The big metaphor here (there’s always a Big Metaphor in a Sean Penn movie, bless him) is the notion oi how you get through your liie without some helping hand to get you past the many dangers that cross your

It also relates to the death oi a child in a hit-and-run accident, the catalyst tor a narrative that uniolds some live years later as convicted drunk-driver David Morse is released irom prison. Still-distraught lather .lack llicholson, having watched his Iiie iall apart - divorce irom his ex-wiie and the young 1 The Crossing Guard (15) (Sean Penn. girl’s mother (Anielica lluston), I US, 1995) Jack Nicholson, David ; descent into a miasma oi alcohol and g Morse. Midi“ "03‘0". "4 Mins-

E girlie bars - squares up to take i From Fri 20. Edinburgh: Filmhouse.

Jackson: My llie Your Fault

Having screened successfully at the Gay And Lesbian Film Festivals in both London and San Francisco. this

The Crossing Guard: ‘weiglit oi emotional pain'


Divorcees Martin Donovan (Amateur) and Joer Richardson have a strained relationship made worse by his realisation that her new partner is beating his son. Little Oliver would clearly be better off with his father but for one problem - dad is gay. I say problem, but the audience is hardly likely to dispute the father‘s right to custody given this presentation of the case.

The filmmakers take the blandest course available. making the father and his boyfriend model human beings stable, caring and so on. The abuser's character yo-yos between the devil and the suburban husband with no attempt made to yoke the two halves into one personality. Some half-assed psychology about being hit as a child merely puts actor Jason Flemyng into the nightmarish position of ‘expressing‘ his character‘s inner life only to

become flatter and less convincing. The most interesting role is certainly that ofthe mother, who is living with the double trauma of having her husband leave her for a bloke. and of loving the man who is destroying her child. Given Richardson’s spooky resemblance to Julia Carling an intense emotional portrait is not what we can expect. however. Like everything else about this film. the mother is bland and shallow. the sop which dampens potentially explosive material. The story slumps towards its morally inevitable outcome. and if it pricks consciences and provokes tears it does so only because the child's predicament is undeniably horrific. On the bottom line this is forgettable TV drama masquerading as something bigger. (Hannah Fn'es) Hollow Reed ( I5) (Angela Pope. UK. I996 ) Martin Donovan. Joely Richardson. Ian Hart. I 04 ntins. Front Fri 20. Glasgow: Odeon Quays. Edinburgh: Cameo.

a: 'i

llollow lieed: ‘iorgettable TV drama masquerading as something bigger’


l & I . '

les Apprentls: ‘engaging, wonderiully comic tone'



Pierre Salvadori iollows up his assassin’s apprenticeship Wild Target with another comic look at learners, this time in liie and love. ills second ieature with Guillaume (son oi Gerard) liepardleu, Les Apprentls is a very enjoyable contemporary French variation on the Withnail G ltherne. Francois Gluzet and liepardleu are Antoine and Fred, two social misilts who eke out a rent-iree existence in a iriend’s ilat. Antoine dreams oi becoming a successiul playwright and winning back Valerie, who threw him out ten years ago. lle earns enough to pay the bills by writing up Z-grade karate videos, while Fred steals iood and tries to court the lovely Agnes (Claire Laroche) by pretending to be a photographer. Tlueatened with eviction and unable to pay rent anywhere, they bred: lnto Antoine’s

workplace and empty the sale. The

unexpected consequences oi this start

to push an already vulnerable Antoine over the edge.

Funny and unsentlmental, it’s a simple, unaiiected piece, beautiiully played by Gluzet and llepardleu. Oddly enough, gawky young Guillaume looks less like his lather than does Bernard Yerles as Agnes’s boyiriend. Antoine and Fred are sunnier, better-dressed and more abstemious than the Wiihnail G lpair - they’re French, alter all - and their ambitions are really quite modest: iailure, not success, would separate them. With no wild excursion to llncle Monty’s countryside croit, it’s a little claustrophobic and it does peter out slightly at the end, but it wins the day on its engaging, wonderiully comic tone. (Gio MacDonald) les Appreniis (15) (Pierre Salvation, France, 1995) Francois cluzet, Guillaume Deperdieu, Judith Ilean. 98 ntlns. Subtitles. From Fri 20 Sept: Edinburgh Filrnhouse. Front Tire 22 Oct: Glasgow Film matte.

BFl-programmed double- bill of film school shorts offers a chance to assess the prospects of the next generation of gay British moviemakers. At this stage though. the verdict has to be one of promise rather than achievement.

Writer-director Ross Crookshank explains that his 0n Earl/t As It Is In Heaven ‘explores the adult life ofa gay man and his development of a personal morality‘. In practice. this means that childhood memories of a stern religious upbringing are intercut with the narrator’s current search for a moment of epiphany. cruising Soho's gay enclave. and weighing romantic aspirations and spiritual need against the urgings of the trouser department. There are Brownie points for the use of Richard Strauss's elegiac Four Last Songs, but the comparative ecstasies are communicated fairly quickly. the film is overlong. and its physical candour would be better served by sharper editing in and out of the sundry coupfings

More impressive on a technical level is Duncan Roy’s Jackson: My Life Your Fault. in which a resoundineg conventional melodrama is enlivened by classy locations and confident use of the camera. Here a ripely overbearing turn from Georgina Hale puts severe strain on her gay son's already difficult relationship with a policeman and rattles a few family skeletons in the process. Nothing new really. and again the script needs a much tighter focus. (Trevor Johnston) Brit Boys ( [8) (Ross C rookshank/Duncan Roy, UK. I996) 35/40 mitts. From Sun 22-Tue 24. Glasgow: OFT

The List 20 Sept-3 Oct 1996 21