Directed by Sean Penn
Based on the book by Friedrich Dürrenmatt
Screenplay by Jerzy Kromolowski and Mary Olson-Kromolowski
– Jack Nicholson as Jerry Black
– Aaron Eckhart as Stan Krolak
– Robin Wright-Penn as Lori
I cant really get my finger on The Pledge. There are fantastic moments of drama and suspense, but they are sometimes diluted with weirdness. When Jerry has to break the news to a couple that their daughter has been murdered, he does so in a sea of turkeys. There’s a effective moment of panic when it looks like a girl might have been abducted, but it is interrupted by a goofy, Sam Raimi zoom on a clown having a cigarette. You forget the tension and think, “what the fuck?”
Maybe Penn is trying to undermine clichs or pass up easy marks. Any competent director with decent actors can deliver a heart wrenching scene in which parents learn that their child has been murdered. Maybe Penn is trying to do it with one hand tied behind his back.
More often, Penn effectively plays it straight, as with a scene in which the body is discovered by a horrified boy. The terror and shock of the situation are conveyed flawlessly.
The plot is engrossing and flows fairly well. However, the story becomes implausible at times–particularly when Jerry is less than vigilant in protecting a young girl in his charge during her interaction with Jackson who, at the time, looks quite likely to be the killer. In spite of its flaws, The Pledge has most of what you look for in a dramatic thriller: a great cast doing a great job, a good and somewhat unpredictable story and moments of real suspense.