This drama is a sobering and serious film about two men whose lives have been rearranged and redefined by a tragedy.

Freddy Gale (Jack Nicholson) is a divorced jeweler who has been lost, lonely, and self-destructive since a drunk driver, John Booth (David Morse), ran over his seven-year-old daughter. He tries to bury his emptiness with booze and dates with strippers from the club he frequents, but these escapes do not help.

Gale taps into his inner rage and vows to kill Booth, who has just been released from prison after serving six years. Booth, meanwhile, cannot rid himself of guilt. It even gets in the way of an affair he starts with a sensitive artist (Robin Wright).

The Crossing Guard offers a penetrating look at the unsettling dynamics of grief and guilt. Writer and director Sean Penn draws out affecting performances from Nicholson and Morse. And Anjelica Houston is quite touching as Freddy's former wife. The provocative finale of the film is a purgative ritual that is both primal and powerful.