Running On Empty (1988)


Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBBB.5

USA, 1988.  Double Play, Lorimar Film Entertainment.  Screenplay by .  Cinematography by .  Produced by , .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  

One of the most emotionally heartfelt films of the decade, this excellent drama never succumbs to manipulation to rope you in. Judd Hirsch and Christine Lahti play a married couple who have been on the run for over a decade after a politically-motivated factory bombing resulted in the loss of innocent lives. Raising their sons on the lam, they constantly change cities, homes and names in an effort to stay ahead of the law and not have to go to prison and break up their family. When their older son (River Phoenix) starts to show signs that he’s ready to enter the world as a man, they have to decide whether they’re willing to let him go or not. Marvelous dialogue thanks to Naomi Foner’s first-class script brings these very real characters to life, and the acting couldn’t be better. Phoenix is so vulnerably moving, and Lahti is an absolute revelation; her scene in the restaurant with her father is unforgettable.   co-stars as yet another rebellious teenager, this time befriending Phoenix and helping lead him towards his independence.

Academy Award Nominations:  Best Supporting Actor (River Phoenix); Best Original Screenplay

Golden Globe Award:  Best Screenplay
Nominations: Best Picture-Drama; Best Actress-Drama (Christine Lahti); Best Supporting Actor (River Phoenix); Best Director (Sidney Lumet)

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