June 08, 1992 12:00 PM

TNT (Tues., June 9, 8 P.M. ET)

A-

In an engaging modem western based on a Thomas McGuane novel, William (Passed Away) Petersen stars as a blocked painter who returns to work the family ranch in Montana. The intense Petersen seems like an inspired choice to play a McGuane hero, which requires negotiating tricky terrain between the grizzled and the gleeful. But Petersen never nails down the maverick McGuane spirit, merely coming across as frustrated and smart-alecky.

There are some marvelous performances, including Fred Dalton Thompson as a ranch foreman and Buck Henry as Petersen’s crackpot uncle. Lovely photography, sharp dialogue (John Miglis wrote the script) and the tempestuous relationships Petersen maintains with his old flame (Lolita Davidovich) and his new one (Rachel Ticotin) make this movie a standout. Jack Balance, Lois Smith and Jeff Kober costar.

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