Lawrence O'Toole
March 01, 1991 AT 05:00 AM EST

State of Grace

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
R
performer
Ed Harris, Gary Oldman, Sean Penn, John C. Reilly
director
Phil Joanou
genre
Mystery and Thriller, Drama
We gave it a D+

Whenever people appear on screen in this Mean Streets of the Irish Mafia (Green Streets?) you expect them to sing. After all, the movie was made by a director (Phil Joanou, who did the U2 movie, Rattle and Hum) addicted to music-video clichés. All the quick cuts, whip pans, and other visual calisthenics may have seemed enveloping, if not compelling, on the big screen. But on video, State of Grace simply looks silly and small.

State of Grace tells of Terry Noonan (Sean Penn, who underplays so much that he seems comatose) returning to his old neighborhood, New York’s Hell’s Kitchen, as an undercover cop. There’s the usual alcoholic best friend (Gary Oldman, in a misconceived and hammy performance), the old girlfriend (Robin Wright), and the evil don (stolidly played by Ed Harris). Unfortunately, these are all tiresome and ultimately tiring people who shout and curse constantly — and never revealingly, like the shriekers in a thoroughly wrought film such as Raging Bull. D+

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