November 29, 1993 12:00 PM

Matt Dillon, Danny Glover

After seeing this sweet, meandering movie that wears its heart on its ragged sleeve, you’ll find it hard to pass that guy on the corner without meeting his eye and mumbling a greeting as you drop a quarter into his cup. Fort Washington succeeds at least in reminding you that those sad figures on the street are individuals, each with a story and a dream of a better life.

The focus here is the developing friendship and dependency between two homeless men, played with conviction and sensitivity by Dillon and Glover. Dillon is a young, guileless schizophrenic who finds a protector in the older, more streetwise Glover, a Vietnam vet with shrapnel in his knee and a wife and two daughters he hasn’t seen in years. Propelled by a dream of renting an apartment and selling fruit off the back of a station wagon, the two team up. As Glover tells Dillon, “It don’t hurt to try, boy.”

Despite its good intentions, Fort Washington doesn’t have much of a story beyond establishing the pluckiness of its characters in the face of dire hardship. The movie is most effective at conveying the grim specifics of homeless life, such as anchoring one’s shoes beneath the bedpost at a shelter to prevent them from being stolen, just hope it’s a lesson you never need to put into practice.(R)

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