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dir David Weaver
scr Elan Mastai, David Weaver
prd Suzanne Cheriton, Andras Hamori, Tony Wosk
with Samuel L Jackson, Luke Kirby, Ruth Negga, Tom Wilkinson, Deborah Kara Unger, Gil Bellows, Martha Burns, Aaron Poole, Tom McCamus, Stephen McIntyre, AC Peterson, Diana Leblanc
release UK 20.Apr.12, US 18.May.12
Femme fatale? Jackson and Negga
R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E
Set in Toronto, this noir thriller gets under the skin due to layered performances from the entire cast. It's a slow build until the final act, but it remains gripping thanks to a snaky plot that gets nastier and scarier as it develops.
After 25 years in prison, con-artist Foley (Jackson) decides to change his life. All his old friends are gone, and his best pal's son Ethan (Kirby) now works for vicious businessman Xavier (Wilkinson). But Ethan brings back the issues Foley is trying to put behind him. Worse, Ethan needs Foley's help for a "samaritan" grift, which involves coming to the aid of the mark to win his trust. Then Foley meets vulnerable young call-girl Iris (Negga), who manages to get under his skin.
Visually, director Weaver keeps things simple, with shadowy, slick photography and straightforward editing . This belies the churning complexity of the story, which gives the cast the chance to create memorable characters. The noir tone and sting plot make it clear that we can't trust anything, especially when we learn early on that Foley was forced to kill Ethan's father, which is what put him behind bars. And further revelations twist the plot in in some very dark directions.
The dialog is made up of jingoistic phrases that sound deeply important but don't actually mean much. "If you keep on doing what you've always done, you'll keep on being who you've always been." But with his quietly intense performance, Jackson makes the most of every scene. And his developing relationship with the terrific Negga has an electric zing to it, combining tenderness with a subtle sense of both possibility and danger.
All of this develops gradually to the climactic con, as the script piles on red herrings, grim surprises and plot-turns that keep each character trapped in the situation. Everyone thinks they're in control, able to turn things in their favour, but of course there's something each person doesn't reckon on. The high quality of the acting more than makes up for the downbeat tone, and while the film's low-energy approach will keep it from being a hit, thoughtful audiences will find plenty to engage with.
R E A D E R R E V I E W S||
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© 2012 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall|
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