With The Pledge, Sean Penn has found a glorious voice, and his commitment to the craft certainly elevates him above the mediocre mix of Hollywood directors. A defiant pioneer that puts the emotional peril back into cinema, Penn never gives the viewer the predictable or banal.
Sometimes I don't want a motion picture to end; I want to be invited in, you see, walk through the screen and sit a little closer to the characters, even ask a few questions if I could. Something so familiar tugs at me that I watch and wait, hoping to see myself emerge from the shadow of events before me; within that anticipation, I believe, lies the core of brilliant film making. The Pledge, Shawn Penn's latest contribution to the indie scene, has all the components of a classic: exceptional story, characters, cinematography, editing and score; all of which are united through equally skilled direction. This is a cultivated drama with a lasting impact that certainly proves the superior talents of it's cast and crew.
To watch Jack Nicholson (Detective Jerry Black) give one of his more subtle performances since Five Easy Pieces, is to witness a mastered technique; experience a higher form of acting that truly defines the art form. Nicholson simply IS this aging detective that's driven by the promise to deliver his "man" at all cost. It is this tragic character flaw that takes the viewer on a ride that is neither a harsh car crash nor a predictable flat tire. Instead, The Pledge ignites from the inside out, leaving a sort of emotional brushfire that eventually consumes all that attach themselves to Black's charted obsession.
With The Pledge, Sean Penn has found a glorious voice, and his commitment to the craft certainly elevates him above the mediocre mix of Hollywood directors. A defiant pioneer that puts the emotional peril back into cinema, Penn never gives the viewer the predictable or banal. The Pledge is an ensemble piece that takes an ordinary story and makes it so real that the audience can easily slip inside the lives of its cast, ultimately sharing their point of view.
The only sad telling of this important work is the lack of attention it received. It came and went without being embraced by the elite media and so the fire it created went out,prematurely (something cast and crew might have predicted); the video stores displaying the only evidence of its heroic existence. Well...good. It plays just fine on your DVD player, and easily transcends its medium to play just as well as it did in a darkened theater. I'm sure it will run the coveted art houses and be collected by the diehard cinephiles for years to come.
So browse the video shops and hope to find it missed for prettier box art, and wrap it inside a brown paper bag (giggling to yourself) until you get back home. Then slip it in the machine of your choice, sit back and get quite lost inside the tiny, astute spectacle. Join director Sean Penn and his talented motion picture troupe and experience consummate filmmaking.
Why else do we watch films?