This film tells a bitter tale of a dysfunctional family. Joshua, a cold-blooded professional killer, returns to his Brighton Beach boyhood home for a "job." He knows it will be difficult to... See full summary »
This film tells a bitter tale of a dysfunctional family. Joshua, a cold-blooded professional killer, returns to his Brighton Beach boyhood home for a "job." He knows it will be difficult to return to the Russian-immigrant community of his youth--in his eyes, we see anticipation of the inevitable emotional pain and psychic turmoil that seeing his forsaken family and estranged companions will bring him. To do his job, and try to maintain some semblence of sanity, he has had to wall off his humanity from even himself. Seeing his kid brother, who adores him, talking with his dying mother, who still loves him, and yes, arguing with his abusive father, begins to wreak havoc with his personal defenses. As his steely demeanor begins to dissolve, we are shown the soul of a hit-man crumbling away, piece by piece. Finally, all that he now allows himself to admit that he loves is agonizingly torn away from him and he is left with the ultimate punishment for his transgressions. Written by
Tad Dibbern <DIBBERN_D@a1.mscf.upenn.edu>
This film contains just 454 shots in about 92 minutes of action (i.e. excluding the credits). This equates to an average shot length of about 12 seconds. This is very long compared to the 3 - 6 second standard of most Hollywood films made in the 1990s. See more »
In the scenes where Mr. Schell is supposedly speaking Russian, his language is unintelligible beyond the simplest words. See more »
The first feature of James Gray already relies on his favorite theme, which is the breaking of a family and the choices that result from it.
The interesting points of the script, and more generally the movie, are the complicated relations between the members of this family. The plot, serve badly by a slow rhythm and a static staging, is very weak and doesn't manage to captivate, except for the rather good ending. This is the biggest flaw of this director, never imposing an undeniable force or power to its movies.
All the characters are very cold and don't convey much emotion, therefore it is difficult to feel any sympathy, empathy or disgust towards them, and that's a shame for a drama.
It is to be noted that Gray, in his following movies, will show great improvement regarding his direction, which is here quite hesitant and ultimately blend, especially with the use of cheap zooms.
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