(Chris Menges, USA, 1992)


From its first moments of a boy (David Arnott) reflecting matter-of-factly in voice-over about his “screwed up” life as he cruises on his bicycle, CrissCross is a surprising, quietly compelling film.

The story is set in 1969, when the everyday lives of ordinary people are being altered by the permissive counterculture and by the first cataclysmic reverberations of the Vietnam War.

Goldie Hawn (who also co-produced) plays a struggling single mother, abandoned by a husband (Keith Carradine) so traumatised by the war that he has fled to a monastery.

The film looks at the problems of this dysfunctional family without indulging in maudlin regret for lost happiness or shattered innocence. Beautifully directed by Chris Menges (A World Apart, 1988), it achieves a tone somewhere between Scorsese’s Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore (1974) and Richard Ford’s novel Wildlife, full of fleeting, powerfully understated testimonials to human frailty.

The only pity is the manner in which Scott Sommer’s script finally abandons this observational mode for a pat storyline involving drug dealing and undercover cops.

MORE Menges: The Lost Son

© Adrian Martin July 1993

Film Critic: Adrian Martin
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