I stayed up late watching a suspense detective story directed by Sean Penn and had been released on film last 2001, that will be roughly 11 years ago. I was enticed by the story wanting to know who the killer of all those 8-year old girls killed across the surrounding places. I was also drawn by an all star cast of characters, Jack Nicholson, Benicio del Torro, Helen Mirren, Aaron Eckhart, Sam Sheppard, Robin Wright Penn, etc. It was a good movie but at the end, I never got the chance to see who the killer was which still leaves a big question mark in my head. This is really a good mind-boggling movie.
It started with a discovery of the body of an 8-year old girl named Ginny in the snow by a boy who had his snow mobile malfunctioned. He saw a man leaving the area, scared and in a hurry. Jerry (Jack Nicholson) is a detective nearing his retirement. He only got a few days left from his office when this case struck him. When they informed the parents of the girl about the misfortune, the mother was devastated by the news. Jerry uttered his comforting words to the mother that he will find the killer, and he was asked to swear on the cross which he did. Meanwhile the police caught up the guy who was seen rushing to leave the scene of the crime. He was an American Indian guy who has a brain of a child and mentally incapacitated. Jerry’s partner (Aaron Eckhart), immediately spurs out a confession from the guy and whilst taking him on the cell, he grabbed the gun of the arresting officer and shoots himself. Everybody thought that the case is closed except for Jerry who is noticing something is not right. He investigates further and found out that there are two unsolved cases from the neighbouring towns that are suspiciously similar to his own. Further inquiries reached an older woman who had led him to the grandmother of the girl. He saw the dead girl’s drawing which depicts a tall man handling little porcupines and a black station wagon to which he kept as evidence. He had presented his findings to his colleagues to which they rebut. Jerry was too smart to realize that his colleagues may have him committed to investigate case. So he appears to be living a life of an old retired man. He calculated the place where the killer might struck again. He rented a cabin near the lake. When he saw an old gas station, he offered the owner an opportunity to sell it to him which he eventually gained. So he lived on the house at the back of the gas station and tends to the business as should be. He met and befriends a not-so-lucky-in-love waitress named Lory (Robin Wright Penn) in the restaurant bar. She had an 8-year-old daughter named Chrissy. When the waitress was battered by her husband, she sought comfort from Jerry. In turn, Jerry took them in his house with no commitments. Soon after, he had grown affection on Chrissy and Lori noticed it so she fell in love with him eventually. They had lived a good life but Jerry is still adamant to catch the killer so she warned Chrissy to tell him when she got the chance to meet the tall guy from Ginny’s drawing. One day, Chrissy revealed to Jerry that he had encountered the guy and he even gave him porcupine-like chocolates. The man told her not to tell her parents about the encounter but since Jerry is not related to her, she thought it would be OK without breaking her promise. Jerry immediately knew that this is the guy. Chrissy even asked Jerry if she could meet her on the big playground which he agrees as he was planning to catch the guy by using the girl as bait without the mother knowing all about it. Jerry immediately contacted his colleagues and they followed Chrissy on the big playground as she waits for the man in patient. The team is getting impatient as they wait for the killer and Jerry sense that something is not right again. They had their altercations on the situation to which they left Jerry to look after the girl instead and wait for the killer to show up. Meanwhile, the killer who was riding the black station wagon with a porcupine on the car mirror has all the intention to see and meet Chrissy but was caught by a car accident and burnt to death. Jerry’s team had run into the accident but the car and the person inside are beyond recognisable. When the mother learned Jerry is using the girl as bait to catch the killer, she got so furious and left him for good. Jerry lost his mind as what he thought as a perfect plan to catch the culprit has made him lost his good life. He never learned the mishap the killer had gone through.