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Time Out says
At last, a real part for Nicholson to sink his teeth into. As Francis Phelan, one-time family man and baseball contender reduced by guilt to Depression-era drifter, the star drives for the marrow, for the spiritual dimension beyond the stubble and staggers that eluded Rourke in Barfly. Decades ago, Phelan fatally dropped his baby son; during a trolley strike he threw a rock at a scab, accidentally killing him; a boxcar brawl over shoes resulted in another death: ghosts rise up to rebuke him. 'I don't hold grudges for more than five years,' he tells the apparitions, companionably. 'See ya'. His horizons have shrunk to somewhere to sleep for the night, the price of a bottle, and a new pair of shoelaces, but like the Beckett characters who can't go on, he goes on. Weaker derelicts attach themselves to him - Rudy, cheerfully dying of cancer (Waits, terrific), and Helen, a pathetic, muttering bag-lady down from gentility (Streep, resembling Worzel Gummidge). Down here on the wintry streets of Albany, the characteristic Babenco concern for flotsam gets a sombre and lengthy workout, but it's Nicholson's film.