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Sean Penn wrote and directed this tale of loss, guilt, and revenge. The daughter of Freddy and Mary Gale (Jack Nicholson and Anjelica Huston) was killed by a drunk driver, John Booth (David Morse). The death of their child took a heavy toll on the Gales; their marriage broke up, and, while Mary has remarried and attempted to put her life back together, Freddy has become an embittered alcoholic, seething with directionless rage and searching for a purpose in life. Freddy intends to kill Booth as soon as he's released from prison, as he believes that jail was not a severe enough punishment for his daughter's death. But Freddy discovers that Booth is still wracked with guilt for his crime and can barely live with himself. He tells Booth that he has three days left to live; Booth tries to find solace in the arms of artist Jojo (Robin Wright), while Freddy continues to wallow in alcohol and self-pity at a strip club. The Crossing Guard also features an original song by Bruce Springsteen; Penn's previous directorial outing, The Indian Runner, was loosely based on a Springsteen song from his album Nebraska.~Mark Deming
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Rated 5 out of 5 stars
This is a fascinating character drama from director Sean Penn, with a great, underseen Jack Nicholson performance. Essential viewing, along with The Pledge, the other Nicholson/ Penn collaboration from 2001.