Running on empty

United States, 1988

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An absorbing film about a pair of anti-Vietnam activists (Judd Hirsch and Christine Lahti) who have been in hiding from the FBI for over fifteen years. Still committed to their radical ideals, the couple have to face a crisis of conscience when their talented oldest son (River Phoenix) begins to dream about attending music college and leaving behind his life on the run. This under-rated film is an extremely clear-headed portrayal of how the the politics of the Vietnam era still affects the social relationships of contemporary America. One of the most remarkable features of this film is the compassionate tone it extends across the generations. This complex and intelligent film is a film that refuses the easy revisionist moralism of Kasdan’s “The Big Chill”. Made in a decade notable for computer generated whimsy, this very adult Hollywood film is a treasure.

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In ACMI's collection



Sidney Lumet


Amy Robinson

Griffin Dunne

production company

Lorimar Film Entertainment



Production places
United States
Production dates

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