Directed By: Guillaume Canet
Written By: Guillaume Canet & James Gray
Based on the French Film ‘RIVALS’ (Les Liens Du Sang) Written By: Jacques Maillot, Pierre Chossen & Eric Veniard
Based On The Novel Written By: Bruno & Michel Papet
Cinematography By: Christophe Offenstein
Editor: Herve De Luze
Cast: Clive Owen, Billy Crudup, Marion Cotillard, Noah Emmerich, Matthias Schoenaerts, Zoe Saldana, Dominick Lombardozzi, John Ventimiglia, Mila Kunis, Lili Taylor, James Caan, Griffen Dunne, Yul Vasquez, Jamie Hector, Eve Hewson, Olek Krupa
Two brothers, on either side of the law, face off over organized crime in Brooklyn during the 1970s.
This is an American remake of the French film RIVALS by director Jacques Maillot. Which actually starred the director of this remake Guillaume Canet
This film is an interesting film. In that it feels familiar but feels completely it’s own. Even though it is a familiar tale of cops and criminals. Though this film is a heartbreaker. It is also a film that practically feels like it comes from nowhere
Now I will admit I haven’t seen the French film this is based on, but the film does feel inspired in mood and time period.
Above all the production design is top notch. Though a few times it calls attention to itself. This does feel like a film of that time and era.
It’s no surprise that director James Gray is one of the co-screenwriters as this film feels like one of his own. It is just without the style. As the themes here feel just as strong as they were in his films WE OWN THE NIGHT and THE YARDS
Though director Guillaume Canet makes his film more expressive than his films. This film feels more open. Rather than closed off as James Gray’s films. Can feel like at times.
Which makes sense as James Gray helped Guillaume Canet translate the dialogue from French to fluent New Yorkese. As this is Canet’s first English language film. Though for the epic size the film feels like it possesses. Once you realize that this film stays relatively small in more a self contained story. Sure they are criminals who are successful, but unlike other crime stories. They are not the biggest or the best at trying to take over territories. Like any growing business they just want to maintain and be successful. Enough not to raise any suspicions.
The film seems to borrow elements of style from films like it that have come before and while the film is stylish it seems to barely have any style. The two elements that feel original or different are that is half the scenes it seems like the mood must be set before any of the characters speak so we have a lot of gazing before a word is spoke or an action taken.
More is said with looks throughout the movie rather than dialogue. Which works as the main characters both work in fields that are secretive and they both have repressed feelings about everyone and everything around them. Both of them are men of action rather than talking. The film also tries to set up it’s soundtrack to set the mood before an action takes place. These are not complaints more what seems like it feels it is set apart form the rest.
Actually this film I wish was actually longer as it feels like a film that could have been a one season television-mini series on cable as the characters all have such back stories and dimensions. You want them all to get their own stories and watch their decisions and motivation/ you want to spend time with them. Even though all the major cast members get their redemptive scenes. Even the supporting characters have a richness to then that makes you interested and care about them.
I am shocked with this packed well known cast that this film never made an impression, nor made it to theaters in the United States. Though it is a little slower than most of these tales it does make it’s presence and power felt.
Though you can tell a foreign hand at work behind the scenes as quite a few of the cast members in major roles are European actors. They are still good. It they are also the ones who try he hardest with old school New York accents. That make them more oblivious than hide.
Shockingly even with a film this testosterone heavy st times the strongest more commanding performance comes from Marion Coitallird as Clive Owen’s ex and baby mother. Though more a smaller supporting character whenever she is on screen she feels lien she is always in control.
Billy Crudup is good as the more sensitive brother who is a cop and seems to have a lifetime of regrets. Who slowly send to build himself up and unravel at the same time. As he begins a relationship and maneuvers his guilt and difficult relationship with his brother that throughout the film tries to show no matter what there is a bond. Though what works throughout is that he is tough but appears. Blank eyed or haunted throughout. Which helps make him seem unpredictable. James Caan is silently heartbreaking as their father who tired to do the best he couldn’t hen each of them. Though as he is nearing the end just wants them to be a family again.
Clive Owen stays picking good material that allows him range and in which he can prosper as he is good in this film. More or less as the center of attention star. Here he gets a starring role that even if it doesn’t make his star bigger. Helps cement him as a reliable character actor. He is ruthless when he has to be out of nowhere, but can also be tender if needed. His charisma is his crime and what makes most like him and trust him. As he never pretends to be something he is not. Though can be an unrepentant killer if need be. Though even knowing that you still want him to succeed after a pitiful attempt at going straight goes awry.
Even Zoe Saldana in a small more romantic interest girlfriend role (which we are seeing her in way too many times) really gets some scenes to impress and show her talent. Where you really want to know more about her and crudup’s Character past and more about her mindset. Stuck in the middle.
The film is a good drama with thriller elements that deserves to be known and get more attention. Even if it’s story and plot you might find familiar and at times feel like a mix and match from your favorite crime stories or mob movies.
What helps this film is that you can sympathize with each character who don’t necessarily make the right decisions. In fact half the time they are wrong, but you still like them nonetheless. You still want the ad guys to succeed and the good guys to win. It’s still a cut above most crime stores of the same type who are more obvious and seem to lose story and character for style, recreation and trying to create more iconic characters.
The film seems more about building up tension in all aspects and when it finally is released. It feels more like a conventional ticking time clock thriller ending rather than the emotional yet violent one you seem to be waiting for, Just as the rest of the film. The ending is emotional and understanding but still non verbal and plays it’s hand close to the Chest.
While the film does indulge in what you expect it to in violence, action, and sex. It actually feels a bit prudish as it shows a restraint and barely indulges in those usual elements. Going more for repressed emotions and relationships throughout