New York, 1974. Fifty-year-old Chris (Clive Owen) has just been released on good behavior after several years in prison following a gangland murder. Reluctantly waiting for him outside the gates is his younger brother, Frank (Billy Crudup), a cop with a bright future. Chris and Frank have always been different, and their father, Leon (James Caan), who raised them alone, seems to favor Chris despite all his troubles. Yet blood ties are the ones that bind, and Frank, hoping that his brother has changed, is willing to give him a chance - he shares his home, finds him a job, and helps him reconnect with his children and his ex-wife, Monica (Marion Cotillard). But Chris' inevitable descent back into a life of crime proves to be the last in a long line of betrayals, and after his brother's latest transgressions, Frank banishes him from his life. But it's already too late, as the brothers' destiny is bound together, forever.Written by
On the beginning, I have to admit, that I've never got familiarized with the style both of Guillame Canet and James Gray, probably because barely any of their previous works acquired broad distribution in my country. Hence, while stepping into the cinema room, I didn't know what kind of emotions or thoughts the upcoming movie would release in me. Neither did I know what the movie would be about nor how it was admitted by professional critics. I was sitting on my chair, being curious what values may bring the movie, boasting with appearance of quite astonishing amount of gifted actors. After the showing, the question was partially answered.
While in other movies representing the genre there is one character the story focuses around, here we have two, both standing on the opposite sides of the law: the notorious criminal, who, having spent a long-term sentence in jail, is being released and his younger brother, Frank, turned out to be a devoted policeman. The past and social positions occupied by both of brothers are sources of the tension growing between Chris and Frank, which is especially visible in the attitude of the police officer. However, he has the feeling of being partially responsible for the path his brother has taken. In the childhood period, Frank failed Chris, which resulted in his first jail sentence.
The whole situation is being observed by third party characters, the most interesting of which is a prostitute performed by Marion Cotillard. Climbing on peaks of her acting skills, the actress successfully presents a wreck, that believes in no chances on brighter future, even while being a mother of two Chris' children. In opposition to her, the rest of those observers fails to attract any attention. Even while having such great actors like James Caan or Lily Taylor, Canet and Gray do not know how to connect their characters with the story, not to mention about Mila Kunis. Her character just exist in the movie's world.
I have the feeling, however, that the screenwriters put enough effort to present the main plot in a satisfactory way, being supported by two great actors. Despite the conflict between two brothers, viewers can sense that there is still a thin bond between them, even though Frank urgently tries to conceal it. All scenes between them are well paced and written. Confrontation of muffled Billy Crudup with impulsive Clive Owen gave an interesting result - it's the former convict, that through his attempts to fix the situation acquires our sympathy more than the cold policeman.
I'm not gonna praise the movie's capacity to convey the 70's atmosphere, because this feature has become common. However, what needs to mentioned about are dialogues. They are juicy and full of vulgarisms, that perfectly give the viewer a notion about the social environment the movie tells about. The presented world is devoid of any kind of beauty.
After all, I accept the vision presented by Guillame Canet and James Gray. In spite of it's flaws, the movie presents the main plot in enough absorbing way to attract viewers. There is a tie between me and this movie, even though it is not as strong as it should be.
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