In the rail yards of Queens, contractors repair and rebuild the city's subway cars. These contracts are lucrative, so graft and corruption are rife. When Leo Handler gets out of prison, he ...
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Jack N. Green
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In the rail yards of Queens, contractors repair and rebuild the city's subway cars. These contracts are lucrative, so graft and corruption are rife. When Leo Handler gets out of prison, he finds his aunt married to Frank Olchin, one of the big contractors; he's battling with a minority-owned firm for contracts. Willie Gutierrez, Leo's best friend, is Frank's bag man and heads a crew of midnight saboteurs who ruin the work of the Puerto Rican-owned firm. Leo needs a job, so Willie pays him to be his back-up. Then things go badly wrong one night, a cop IDs Leo, and everyone now wants him out of the picture. Besides his ailing mom and his cousin Erica, to whom can Leo turn? Written by
Imagine a painting hanging in a museum. It's a masterfully rendered portrait of a family, a house in the background. Maybe a lake off to one side. The picture is absolutely flawless, and if you merely glance at it, or even give it the once-over, you can recognize it as a picture of a house and a family, and move on.
But if you stop to look at it, it's not quite perfect. The color of a scarf clashes with the rest of mom's outfit. That squirrel in the tree only has three legs. Little things to let you know that the artist, while talented, still hasn't perfected his craft. Or, more likely, if the painting weren't so excellently rendered, you wouldn't be able to point out the scarf, or the squirrel, or any of the finer details.
Like this painting, we have "The Yards," a story centering on Leo Handler (Wahlberg), freshly released from prison and trying to look after himself and his mother. The story is well-told, the characters (with the exception of Dunaway) are carefully acted, and this character-driven drama is fascinating to watch.
But taken as a whole, parts of the film were just overlooked. Wahlberg acts with a blank stare, his character just as dumb as his character in "Boogie Nights." None of the female characters exist for any reason except for the audience to feel pity for them. Every death is predictable, minutes before it happens. And the entire story spirals into such a depressing destination, I can't at all think of who I could recommend this film to. It was well-made, but James Gray would do better as a playwright with material like this.
An exquisitely well-made, beautifully directed film. The pictures are wonderful and the performances are excellent, but be warned that this film is a serious, serious downer. May the director find lighter material soon.
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