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One word sums this film up: average. It's a very average film, with nothing special about it whatsoever. The inherent problem in this film: too many twists and turns. Every second scene has a new twist, and there are so many that the film loses its sense of purpose. Yates tries to be so clever with all of the plot twists and turns, but there are so many red herrings and cons within cons that it's just overwhelming - and falls beyond the zone of believability. This film is trying too hard to be a classic noir, and the director can't decide whether he wants to be John Huston or Guy Ritchie. The only problem is, his script is nowhere near as sharp as the Maltese Falcon, his visuals nowhere near as crisp and noir as Huston, and he doesn't have any of the humour of Ritchie.
And Pollack is no Bogart, Balaban no Bacall or Mary Astor. And the characterization is faulty - aside from Pollack's character (Harlan Jr.), the other characters simply don't stay true to form - they change throughout the film in ways that aren't just unexpected, but uncharacteristic. As well, Pollack simply isn't believable as the kind of character he's playing. His character is too genuine, too naive - and the way he ends the film (no, I won't spoil it) is a stretch. Yates is borrowing more than a little bit from Miller's Crossing, but Pollack is no Gaberiel Byrne - and he's also far from a Bogart or Fred MacMurray.
As well, the middle sags horribly. From the frenzied pace of the beginning to the frenetic pace of the end, we have this slow and dreary interlude with a 'romantic' aspect that perhaps wants to be a red herring, but just feels false, shallow and out of place.
As far as Canadian film goes, however - at least non-Quebecois Canadian film - this is a pretty solid one. Which doesn't say too much about Canadian film. We certainly have a lot to learn about film-making, but there are always moments where I feel that we're heading in the right direction. Not the best Canadian film I've seen, but nowhere near the worst, its flaws aren't serious enough to make you want to stop watching.
In the end, this film tries very hard and brings forth some interesting and quirky characters, but falls short of its potential.Yates has something interesting going here, and he shows bright promise, but he needs to tighten up his script and gain a better understanding of film
especially film noir - before he can near that potential. Yates will
get better, but he needs to take a step back and examine himself and his work first. 6/10.
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