There have been genuflections in front of this movie because-
a. It tries very hard not to be Hollywood.
b. Sean Penn (the director) is allegedly cool.
c. Nicholson is really rather good in it.
But the character doesn't make sense. He's avuncular, he's laid-back and in the last reel he suddenly goes stark, staring mad. Is he a good guy who's been fucked over by God or a seething nutcase who's been putting up a convincing front? We don't see anything of his inner life so how can we tell?
And if we don't know what's going on inside him, why should we care?
Somewhere at the back of all this there's a novel(?) by Friedrich Durrenmatt. I'm thinking that what's happened is that it used to be a story about a catholic guilt trip, but- for whatever reasons- they took the motor out.
Turning your back on Hollywood doesn't automatically make you European and deep.