Cinema: What Lurks Beneath

In The Pledge, Jack Nicholson plays at being normal while unmasking the dark world around him

The film begins as it ends, with Jack Nicholson's Jerry Black wandering a desiccated landscape, mumbling crazily to himself. At first, of course, we do not know why he has reached this demented state. By the end of The Pledge, we do. What lies between is a highly intelligent, intricately constructed and curiously haunting puzzle, rich in psychological acuity and excellent performances, which, if not quite as satisfying as it might be, is still good enough.

Jerry is a Nevada homicide detective whose life is his job. On the day of his retirement a particularly grisly case--an eight-year-old girl has...

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