The Crossing Guard


Mixed or average reviews - based on 18 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 8 out of 18
  2. Negative: 4 out of 18

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Critic Reviews

  1. But Mr. Penn mostly keeps a tight, impassioned grip on this material, preventing it from wandering too far afield. The influence of John Cassavetes is again clear in the characters' emotional sparring, which has energy and heart.
  2. 80
    The current of bereavement never flags even when the dramatic flood becomes stagnant. In every scene, Penn seems to know precisely where the nugget of feeling is hidden, and he doesn't let up until its uncovered.
  3. Jack Nicholson and Anjelica Huston give mature performances as the bereaved parents, and David Morse brings an offbeat touch to the basically decent man who traumatized their lives.
  4. Some scenes ramble and go on too long, dialogue occasionally turns awkward and adolescent, and the film threatens to collapse from its own unchecked anger.
  5. His emphasis on acting is welcome at a time when shallow, smirkingly self-referential performances threaten to become the Hollywood norm, but the film's slack pacing and narrative indiscipline undermine its intensity.
  6. The Crossing Guard is a work of talent and, on occasion, raw passion, but it's also a willed exercise in purgative alienation (imagine "Death Wish" remade by Michelangelo Antonioni).
  7. 63
    What is good about this film is very good, but there are too many side trips, in both the plot and the emotions, for the film to draw us in fully.
  8. 63
    The problem with The Crossing Guard is not the premise or core theme, but the manner in which director Sean Penn breathes life into the story. This film is horribly unfocused.
  9. So while at times, Penn's film is moving and insightful about the way the heart survives tragedy, at other times it seems to have been made by a gifted schizophrenic who thinks that weird behavior is perfectly normal.
  10. 50
    But ultimately all that melancholy stifles the characters.
  11. USA Today
    Reviewed by: Mike Clark
    The movie is repetitious in some ways and superficial in others. But though Penn doesn't always seem to know where he's going, his movie doesn't altogether miss its destination. [15 Nov 1995, Pg.05.D]
  12. Reviewed by: Angie Errigo
    Although there are some great moments (one for Nicholson recalling the toast scene of "Five Easy Pieces"), Penn's intentions lose their way.
  13. The Crossing Guard, Penn's second film behind the camera, is a troubling, troublesome movie whose makeshift structure cannot contain the powerful flood of passions that he and his cast have poured into it.
  14. Reviewed by: David Rooney
    Much of the film plays awkwardly, its tone veering undecidedly between volatile drama and contemplative psychological study.
  15. The result is a curious mix - a picture that simultaneously seems meanderingly loose, affording the cast plenty of performing space, and suffocatingly tight, choking off the audience from any interpretive engagement.
  16. Penn, who also wrote the script, burdens the story with so many self-indulgent side developments that he loses emotional drive and Freddy's desperate obsession gets lost in the shuffle.
  17. David Morse, who plays the driver, gives a relatively sharp and understated performance -- for me the only bearable thing in the movie.
  18. The New Republic
    Reviewed by: Stanley Kauffmann
    Penn's film is very slow, sententious, ill-judged about the tensions he wants in long scenes. [18 Dec 1995, Pg.28]

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