Based on Michael Chabon's novel, the film chronicles the defining summer of a recent college graduate who crosses his gangster father and explores love, sexuality, and the enigmas surrounding his life and his city.
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Pittsburgh, coming of age in the 1980s. At the beginning of June, Art Beckstein calls this the last summer of his life - after which he'll work as a stock broker. Art's father is the city's mob boss, steering Art's life, judging his choices. At a party, Art sees Jane, smart, blond, lovely. They meet; she has a boyfriend. The next day, Cleveland, the boyfriend, pulls Art from work and the summer of adventures begins. Cleveland lives close to the edge; he's explosive, with hints of problems with local thugs. The triangle of friendship gets complicated when Cleveland disappears for a couple weeks. Can Art sort out his feelings as well as help Cleveland? Where does his father fit in this? Written by
This movie came so close to being a very good movie but fouled up at the end-leaving one to mourn what would have been a very good adaptation of a very good book.
It is the summer of 1983. A college graduate (Art) is trying to enjoy his last summer before he leaves Pittsburgh (his home) to become a financial broker. We find that his dad (fantastic portrayal by Nick Nolte) is an organized crime chief, of the local mob, and is proud of his son graduating and does NOT want his son to go into organized crime. The son takes a job for the summer at a local bookstore and is immediately seduced by his only slightly older female supervisor; an affair ensues. During this same period of time Art meets a stunningly attractive young blond (portrayed by Sienna Miller) who likes him; even though she already has a boyfriend (dude named Cleveland). The next day Cleveland, a tough biker type, comes to the bookstore and gives Art a deal "he cannot refuse"- which is a ride on the bike to a local abandoned factory site. At the factory site is a smokestack that still belches out clouds; even though the factory has been shut down for thirty years! Why? It is a mystery, a mystery of Pittsburgh. Why is does Cleveland turn to be actually friendly towards a potential rival? Well, that is another mystery of Pittsburgh.
The movie portrays the last summer of youthful abandon and care; set in surprisingly beautiful settings of a city that is reinventing itself from the traditional "smokestack technology" to a more "greener" environment. Yet, the problem with the movie is its unrealistic portrayal of male and female friendships. It was a very good movie; showing Sienna Miller, for example, doing some very good driving of golf balls at a party. Yet, this subplot never plays out- never explains why she is shown doing something so atypical. Loose ends, poor connections, double meanings that invoke something that is hard to believe even with the typical "suspension of disbelief" found at movies. All of these plot error and loopholes foul up the movie beyond redemption.
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