Saturday, December 15, 2007

Serious Moonlight

We Own The Night, Odeon Telford, Saturday December 15 2007, 3.45pm.

It's already been noted that James Gray's We Own The Night is a kind of Godfather in reverse, with Joaquin Phoenix as a hedonistic nightclub owner fast-tracked into the family cop business to right a wrong and settle a crime war. The presence of Robert Duvall as the plain-speaking patriarch reinforces the 70s feel, while the soundtrack (Blondie; Bowie's Let's Dance and Coati Mundi!) is early 80s Studio 54 chic, so it's slightly disconcerting to find the film's purported setting is a 1988 New York where an influx of a new wave of drugs from Eastern Europe sees top cop Mark Wahlberg (still wearing that ridiculous side-parting from The Departed) coaxing his errant brother into helping in The War On Drugs. Initially, the bon viveur just says no, but when bro gets mown down outside his home, Phoenix rises to the occasion.

Aside from having amoral Russians with dodgy haircuts cast as the villains of the piece, writer/director Gray's picture seems almost determinedly unfashionable with a slowish pace and uncompromising seriousness unlikely to sit well with younger viewers. We Own The Night may be indebted to 70s policiers but crucially lacks the cinematic sweep and social realism that distinguished and enlivened the genre films of that era. But if the movie more closely resembles a better-than-average Kojak episode that's not to say there isn't plenty to like here. Phoenix has piled on some pounds for the role but has never looked so comfortable in his skin on screen before, while a car chase sequence in the driving rain manages the near-impossible feat of seeming fresh, vivid and genuinely in-the-moment.

And any film that starts with Eva Mendes feeling herself up to Blondie's 'Heart Of Glass' can't be all bad. Phoenix joins her on the sofa, only for their coitus to get interruptus, so we guess it's a case of from whacking off to Joaquin off?

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

<< Home