- Award Snub: Keitel's performance is one of the best ever put on film and didn't even get an Oscar nomination.
- Narm: Any of the sex scenes, except for the Nun's.
- He Really Can Act: After seeing him here, you will be genuinely baffled as to why Keitel has never won an Academy Award.
- Not that anyone ever really doubted his talent before, but this was his first time in a lead role, and proved that he could handle a film on his own.
- Jerkass Woobie: The Lieutenant. At first glance, he's an absolutely despicable individual with no redeeming features. Then we see the depths of his self-hatred and despair and just how desperately he wishes he could be a good person but feels that God has completely abandoned him.
- Moral Event Horizon: The Lieutenant appears to have crossed his long before the movie starts. In the movie itself, he pulls over a couple of teenage girls and forces them to expose themselves and act out various sexual activities while he masturbates, and ogles a nun who is being medically examined following being gang-raped amongst others, however.
- That said, he is not a sociopath, he commits his acts not out of pleasure but because he doesn't know how else to act. He is full of deep self-loathing and remorse for what he has done and believes he is beyond any levels of redemption.
- Retroactive Recognition: A young Marisa Tomei is one of the above mentioned girls.
- Tear Jerker: The Lieutenant's breakdown in the church. The character is ripped apart and shown as a human being desperately trying to find some sort of hope for redemption and who feels completely abandoned by any sort of deity.
- True Art Is Angsty: Have no illusions. This is a crushingly bleak and unhappy affair from beginning to end. And it is absolutely brilliant for it.