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Will Graham is a gangster who has left the life of crime and is living in the countryside. He comes out of hiding to investigate the death of his brother when he learns that he committed suicide. Charlotte Rampling is his old girlfriend who owns a restaurant. Boad is the villain responsible for the bad things that happened to Will's brother. Written by
Andrea Barney <firstname.lastname@example.org>
[first and last lines]
Most thoughts are memories. And memories deceive. The walk. The way he smoked a cigarette. Laughed. The dead are dead. He's gone. What's left to ever say he was here at all? Not much.
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This is an old master's film, in which an aged director goes back to revisit the kind of story he excelled at when young, with dubious results. A more satisfying example of this kind of nostalgia would be John Frankenheimer's "Ronin," and if you had trouble with that one, you'll hate this one.
What Mike Hodges gives us here is a great wind-up and no pitch. London at night, endless shots of almost-human cars under the street lamps, a threatening bunch of thugs who never really thump each other, it all adds up to considerably less than a whole film.
Much has been made in these reviews about the film's ambiguity. I disagree. All the characters, and I mean all, are painfully aware and articulate about their motivations. Gloomy predictions are made about inevitable conflicts that never materialize, action is either cut short or cut away from. The whole thing is like a Michael Mann thriller with all the thrills scrupulously removed. Or perhaps Hodges is trying to reclaim the genre from Guy Ritchie's jokiness.
The script for this film must really have looked threadbare on the page. The dialog is obvious and arthritic. What works is the acting, the cinematography and the director's depressed atmospherics. Clive Owen demonstrates his considerable presence in a part that is intended to be a deliberate let-down. Charlotte Rampling is fascinating as always, more so than her lines. The rest of the cast ranges from good down to OK.
But in his determination to avoid clichés, the director has also managed to avoid incident, pace and interest. So a nice wind-up, but no pitch, no runs, no hits, and some calculated, deliberate errors.
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