The Pledge

Director: Sean Penn
Year Released: 2001
Rating: 2.5

Recently retired police detective/officer Jack Nicholson becomes obsessed with the case of a dead-and-raped 8-year-old girl, swearing, by his very soul, to find the man responsible. He eventually leaves town, sets up a boating shop, but can't shake the case from his psyche - he knows the real guy is out there - and is gradually driven mad by it. There's a hilarious scene between Aaron Eckhart and Benecio Del Toro - with Del Toro playing Kermit the Frog - that ruins the mood Penn so expertly constructed up until then (the opening shot, of Nicholson's image superimposed with that of birds in flight is wonderful) and should have been rewritten (someone that retarded and with that kind of legal history would have been in a mental home, not on the streets). Far too many hard-to-buy contrivances pop up along the way to sour things, and the finale prefers irony to closure (though the way Penn went was probably the best choice). I was never disinterested, but certainly wished it moved a tad quicker; Penn's ill-advised choice of choral symphonies for the score left me groping for my Enya .mp3s. The French apparently loved this at Cannes - didn't they see L'Humanite?