Loosely inspired by the lives of Weather Underground leaders Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn, Lumet’s provocative, emotionally powerful family drama stars Judd Hirsch and Christine Lahti as aging Sixties radicals who’ve spent two decades on the lam after an anti-Vietnam protest bombing.
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The weaknesses of the film are twofold: an inability to convey any convincing grasp of the present beyond the family’s present (and ongoing) situation, and a belt-and-suspenders heavyhandedness that has always been Lumet’s biggest stumbling block in driving home a dramatic climax.
Cinematography by Gerry Fisher. "Desire" list: The sudden death of River Phoenix, to me, was of the level of James Dean's, with the difference that i'm close to River in a way that will never be to Dean. With a face of an impeccable beauty and a premature strong density of an actor, his figure was larger that its simple figuration. In this film Phoenix achieves a rare and endless aurea. And a supreme beauty.
Another film about family and its impact on our lives. One year later, Sidney Lumet will handle the same theme, in a much lighter manner, in Family Business. But stay with Running On Empty which is afer all one of the best Sidney Lumet movies of the 80's. Highly recommended.
A low-key family drama, wrapped around seemingly familiar bunch of subplots. In the center of it a portrait of a tired and warn-off hippie generation "eaten by their revolution", running from normal life to stay normal. Warm and honest performances by all the actors involved and Lumet's subtle directing carry the movie throughout.