Keitel plays a bad cop, a really bad cop, a lost
soul. What vices are there? He has them. He ignores his
family, sexually exploits hookers, takes dope from dealers
instead of arresting them, shakes down criminals and lets
them go, plays peeping tom with a nun, sexually exploits
young girls that he stops for traffic violations, gambles,
cheats the gamblers, uses crack, mainlines heroin, drinks
constantly, is a racist, and calls Christ a "ratfuck"
Does that about cover it?
He simply can't grasp that a nun, raped violently on the
church altar, won't identify her assailants, although she
definitely knows them. She understands their pain. She has
Can this corrupted man find a piece of his soul in the
heart of the nun?
I don't know, but in an ambiguous ending, Keitel figures
out who did it, and instead of roughing them up or turning
them in, he puts them safely on a bus out of town and tells
them they're dead if they return. Then he sits in his car
waiting for the gamblers to kill him for his outrageous
Does it sound like your kind of ugly, gritty, cinema
verité movie? If so, it is a good one. Roger Ebert awarded
four stars and praised Harvey Keitel's performance, as well
as the film's gritty realism and moral complexity.
Personally, I hate it.
The Lieutenant doesn't stay in character when he's dealing
with the nun. If I were a cop who cuts corners, I would have found a
way to make the friggin' nun understand that the fact of
her having forgiven the rapists is not relevant to whether she should turn
them in. I would have taken her to the morgue and shown
her a dead 12 year old girl and told her that the girl
seems to have been brutally raped and killed by the same
guys, and that the nun could have prevented it by turning
the guys right in. And then I'd tell her that left behind a note saying
they plan to rape and torture a virgin every day. And then
I would have said, "do you know who raped and killed that
girl? Not those deranged monsters who have no control over
their impulses, sister, but you. You did this to her by
leaving them on the streets. You may forgive them, sister,
but this little girl's parents aren't ready to forgive
you." And then, for
emphasis, I would stress that the upcoming crimes are
expected to happen in the neighborhood where the nun's nieces and little
sisters live, on the streets where they play with their puppies.
It would have all been lies on my part, but completely in
character for the Keitel cop, and those lies would have made the
nun sing like Sister Sourire.
- Talk about slow pacing. This movie is only 96 minutes
long, and could be cut by another 20 minutes without
losing anything. Literally. There must be ten full minutes of
explicitly detailed drug use, and another ten of Keitel nodding off
on camera. If you don't know how to use the latest drugs
(well, in 1992, anyway), here's where you can get some
tips. These scenes drag on and on and on pointlessly. I
drifted off to sleep a couple times watching this, but if
nodding off is your favorite spectator sport, this movie
is your Superbowl.
- Yes, Keitel's performance is as good as everyone has
said, but so what? Are you going to watch a movie to see a
demonstration of acting technique?
- Yes, the action has the gritty feel of complete
realism, like one of those real-life cop shows. So give
director Abel Herrera an A for technique, but watch