TWO BROTHERS ON OPPOSITE SIDES OF THE LAW. BEYOND THEIR DIFFERENCES LIES LOYALTY.
In 1988, New York nightclub manager Bobby Green (Joaquin Phoenix) has to decide which side he’s going to be on – the brutal drug dealers at the club or his father and brother who are both cops. Director James Gray returned to themes and places from his first movie, Little Odessa (1994), for this surprisingly engaging drama. Tension builds as Russian gangsters import a very dangerous new drug and are challenged by a weakened police force. Very well structured by the director and the locations are flavorful; good performances by everyone, even though the transformation of Phoenix’s character isn’t entirely credible.
2007-U.S. 117 min. Color. Produced by Joaquin Phoenix, Mark Wahlberg, Marc Butan, Nick Wechsler. Written and directed by James Gray. Cast: Joaquin Phoenix (Bobby Green), Mark Wahlberg (Joe Grusinsky), Robert Duvall (Albert Grusinsky), Eva Mendes, Danny Hoch, Tony Musante.
Trivia: Former New York City mayor Ed Koch plays himself.
Last word: “I saw a photo on the front page of the New York Times in late 2000, a photo of all these grown men who were hugging and crying. It was a police funeral, some guy who had been killed in the line of duty. And I cut it out and put it on my wall. And at the same time I had gone back to Shakespeare, because he understood narrative better than anybody. I had read ‘Henry IV Parts I’ and ‘II’, and I thought, what if I told a Shakespearean story, a classicist story, in the context of the world of the police? That’s something that nobody is doing right now, because there isn’t an obsession with narrative. But I am obsessed with narrative. I wanted to do something stripped down, mythic, with this kind of classic structure.” (Gray, Cinema Scope)