June 08, 1992 12:00 PM

Goldie Hawn, David Arnott

It is the summer of 1969, the time of Neil Armstrong’s walk on the moon. Goldie plays a divorced mother living on the edge with her 12-year-old son (Arnott) in Key West, Fla. Mornings she waitresses in the dingy motel where she and her son share a couple of rooms; at night she dances in a topless joint up the road. When Arnott discovers his mom’s second job, he hitchhikes to the monastery in West Palm Beach where his father, a former Navy flier who wanted to become an astronaut but was traumatized by his tour in Vietnam, works as a grounds keeper. Dad (Keith Carradine, in an affecting cameo) is beyond helping him, and his mother can only tell him that “sometimes you have to do bad things in order to get good things.” This suspect advice leads the boy, when he accidentally discovers a bag of cocaine, to try his hand at drug dealing.

Adapted by Scott Summer from his novella within his novel, Still Lives, Crisscross has the feel of a story based on a true-life incident; it’s a gritty yarn and often moving. But director Chris (A World Apart) Menges can’t seem to decide whether it’s about a beleaguered mother trying to piece two lives together or a cautionary tale for youngsters.

Hawn confirms that she can handle serious material (this is a much stronger performance than she gave in last year’s Deceived), and young Arnott is the find of the season in his debut as the troubled youngster. (R)

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