Jacknife (1989)

“Three buddies in Vietnam. Two survived. Only one is really alive.” A remarkable, absurdly underrated drama bolstered by three powerful performances from Robert De Niro, Kathy Baker and especially Ed Harris, Jacknife was directed by David Jones and based on the 1982 play Strange Snow by Stephen Metcalfe. Vietnam veteran Joseph ‘Megs’ Megessey” (De Niro, sporting a mullet!) reconnects with his troubled, alcoholic war buddy – former local football star “David ‘High School’ Flannigan (Harris) – and attempts to pull him out of his self-imposed isolation (among other issues, Dave feels tremendous guilt for the buddy left behind). Dave lives with his sister “Martha” (Baker), a lonely teacher who pretty much takes care of him, fixing his meals and nursing him through his daily hangovers. Things get complicated when Megs and Martha embark on a relationship, much to the chagrin of Dave. Even the most jaded viewer will most likely be moved by Dave’s final speech: “I blame people. I’ve been blaming people so much. And I’ve been hurting people …” Jeff Bridges reportedly turned down the role of Megs. Roger Ebert: “This is not a movie of plot, it’s about how these three people create a triangle of pain and possible healing.”

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