A handsome, ambitious film that fails to satisfy—perhaps because the director, Ivan Passer, insists on an ambiguity on the plot level that muddies and dilutes the thematic thrust. John Heard's crippled Vietnam vet is one of the most irritating screen characters in memory, which might have represented an interesting risk had Passer not balanced him off with Jeff Bridges, whose smiley likableness is too obviously intended as a sop to the audience. The setting is a surrealist Santa Barbara, where the two buddies tumble across what may be a murder committed by one of the town's leading citizens. A post-Watergate urge for full disclosure and moral rearmament contends with a modernist awareness of the relativity of truth, leading to a climax that hangs queasily between exultation and black despair. With Lisa Eichhorn, Stephen Elliott, and Ann Dusenberry.