Thanks to his own transient upbringing, River Phoenix brought personal gravitas to the role of Danny Pope, the 17-year-old son of activists on the lam since blowing up a napalm lab. Danny - or Michael, or whatever the hell he's calling himself to elude detection - has grown up without roots, tied only by his unconditional love for a renegade-of-conscience father (Judd Hirsch), whose protective instincts are at odds with the principles that propelled him to run in the first place.
These bonds are loosened when Danny, as all late teens are wont, begins to hanker for a future of his own. Egged on by a music teacher to pursue his talents as a pianist, he falls in love with said teacher's daughter. Helmer Sidney Lumet employs a softly, softly approach to the gradually unravelling domestic drama and, though it pads somewhat sleepily towards the inevitable wrench where the crossroads of familial loyalty and personal destiny meet, it's full of enough melodrama to hold the attention.