At Close Range (1986)
Madonna's beautiful ballad "Live to Tell" hums continuously in the background of James Foley's brooding, but overtold and somewhat detached 1986 drama At Close Range. Foley has ambitions of a poetic film with massive emotional impact akin to the best teenage struggle films of the 1950s. As written by Elia Kazan's son Nicholas, the film draws inspiration from films such as On the Waterfront and Rebel Without a Cause. The James Deans and Marlon Brandos have been replaced with Sean Penn, and the updated stylistics are fashion-minded beyond productiveness, as the '80s takes hold of both narrative structure and acting, making this a film that hasn't aged well. Penn looks good in the lead, but Christopher Walken's self-conscious gangster father makes little sense. The drama, although potentially potent, suffers under Foley's lifeless images and a constructed emotive exposition.