pects the truth to be revealed. What’srntrue there is true anywhere! And ThernBad Lieutenant, for all of its grit andrngrime, its sordidness and sleazy excess, isrnactually a film about redemption andrngrace. One would suppose as one watchesrnhis routine of self-indulgence andrnself-abuse that there can be nowherernlower for the renegade cop to sink. Asrnone of his junkie friends (played by thernscreenwriter, Zoe Lund) says, “We gotrnto eat away at ourselves till there’s nothingrnleft but appetite.”rnThat, too, will eventually be extinguished,rnof course. But along with suchrncompulsions, there is also a kind of paranoiarnhere that allows Ferrara and hisrnmerry pranksters an opportunity forrnphilosophical razzle-dazzle. The notionrnthat destiny, or fate, or grace is operatingrnis a hard point to make in a movie, butrnFerrara gives us just that, disguised as arnseries of bets the lieutenant is placingrnagainst the Mets, who ought by any reasonablerncalculation to lose any givenrngame and who cannot possibly be expectedrnto come from a three-zip deficitrnLIBERAL ARTSrnA YOUNG CONSERVATIVErnBirthday: October 30, 1972rnMajor and Year: Leisure Studies,rnSophomore yearrnGoals: To have a successful careerrnas a special events planner. . . tornplan a Presidential Inauguration.rn/ really enjoy: spending time withrnfriends, going to parties, dancing,rnand eating.rnJ totally dislike: people who try tornaggressively push their politicalrnviewpoints on me and also peoplernwho make fun of my hair.rnHeroes: Nancy ReaganrnFavorite music: I enjoy all types ofrnmusic, especially dance music.rnFavorite entertainers: Julia Robertsrnand Kevin Costnerrn1 read: Danielle Steele andrnStephen Kingrn—a campus leader at one ofrnAmerica’s largest universities, asrnprofiled in the school’s conservativernstudent newspaper.rnto win their play-off series against thernDodgers.rnHow this odd business evolves fromrngrace note to leitmotif to the very corernof the drama, the representation of Jesus’rnintercession on behalf of the lieutenant’srnsoul, involves a scries of deftrnmoves—metaphors that seem as solidrnas mathematical equations. This is arncurious way of managing a plot, but it isrnnot far from what happened in DrillerrnKiller, which is about a painter whorncommits a series of murders because, asrnhe is working on his paintings, there is arnpunk band practicing upstairs that isrndriving him crazy. This is totally gonzo,rnand yet it has a metaphoric richness inrnits promptings and intimations aboutrnurban life, chaos, and maybe even therndevil. In The Bad Lieutenant, whatrnhelps Ferrara manage this improbablernstrategy is Keitel’s quirky combinationrnof lumpiness and physical grace. He canrnconvey an anguish that is all the morernconvincing because it is somehow shotrnthrough with moments of self-awarenessrnand even wit. Amazingly this seems notrnto have been imposed from outside orrnabove but to have arisen from the complexityrnof the character itself.rnThe case on which we follow the lieutenant’srnprogress is the savage rape of arnnun (in a church, before the altar!), andrnwhile we may find such a crime all butrnunimaginable, the lieutenant is not sornimpressed. “Women get raped all therntime,” he observes. “What’s so specialrnabout this one, just because she wasrnwearing a penguin suit?” What’s special,rnof course, is that heaven is offended,rnand if the machinery by which thernpoliceman is corrected seems somewhatrnmannered and even melodramatic (Jesusrngets down off the crucifix to standrnthere in the aisle of the church and confrontrnthe cop), we have to admit thatrnhis poor sizzled brain would apprehendrnthe world in just these images. Thatrnthey are authentic and persuasive for therncharacter is all Ferrara needs to establish.rnThe cop is not stupid, after all, butrnmerely weak, as he freely confesses. Indeed,rnas the film shows him sailing everrncloser to the moral wind, we come tornappreciate his shrewdness. He knowsrnjust how far to go, what chances to take,rnand how to limit his risks, the nature ofrnwhich he has gauged with dreadful precision.rnIn one powerful scene in whichrnhe stops a couple of joy-riding giris fromrnJersey, he assaults and brutalizes them asrnfar as it is possible to do without laying arnhand on them. And what is astonishingrnis that there is, for the girls, a lessonrnin the lieutenant’s behavior, a kind ofrnwarning of the moral chaos that ensuesrnas soon as one has abandoned the rules.rnThe lieutenant’s conduct, utteriy dreadfulrnand exploitive, is also elegantly calibrated.rnThere is reason to suppose thatrnthese two bimbos may rethink, repent,rnand amend their lives. That an audiencerncan entertain such notions is a fairlyrnsure indication of the seriousness ofrnKeitel’s and Ferrara’s mischief-making.rnInevitably, the bets against the Metsrnescalate. The lieutenant—he’s neverrnactually named—gets deeper and deeperrninto the hole, and the people he isrnbetting with are implacably unforgiving.rnThere is no way out, unless the Metsrnlose. Their failure to do so is, believesrnthe lieutenant, a joke, a trick of destiny,rna trap, which means the end of the lifernhe has been leading. Now that he is sornfar lost that not even the reward moneyrnthe Church has offered will save him,rnhe is forced to take seriously for the firstrntime the implications of the nun’srnbizarre act of forgiveness of her assailants.rnIt is an imitation of Christ’srnforgiveness of sinners to which even hernis now driven, a weak, worthless, and—rnas he had thought and as we’d havernagreed—altogether lost soul.rnThis is elegant and serious in itsrnmorality, and, of course, it has an NC-rn17 rating, about which Ferrara seemsrnquite pleased. As he remarked to an interviewerrnfor New York, “This film wasrndesigned to be NC-17. If this filmrnwasn’t NC-17, we’d have nothing to sell.rnI don’t give a sh– if Bad Lieutenantrndoesn’t play at the mall in Des Moines,rnwhere they’re f—ing watching HomernAlone. We were gonna put an NC-17rnon it if they gave us a C.”rnIt is altogether satisfactory to be ablernto report about two such fine movies.rnEven better is the prospect of a furtherrndemonstration of Keitel’s odd and brilliantrngifts. Ferrara’s current project isrna piece called Snake Eyes in which Keitelrnis featured as a film director, withrnMadonna as an actress and James Russornas her co-star in the film Keitel is supposedrnto be directing. Ferrara has said,rn”It’s like ]ules and ]im meets Bad Lieutenant.”rnI can’t wait.rnDavid R. Slavitt is a poet and novelistrnliving in Philadelphia.rn50/CHRONICLESrnrnrn