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dir Benny Safdie, Josh Safdie
scr Ronald Bronstein, Josh Safdie
prd Sebastian Bear-McClard, Oscar Boyson, Terry Dougas, Paris Kasidokostas Latsis
with Robert Pattinson, Benny Safdie, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Barkhad Abdi, Buddy Duress, Taliah Webster, Ron Braunstein, Peter Verby, Saida Mansoor, Gladys Mathon, Rose Gregorio, Eric Paykert
release US 11.Aug.17, UK 3.Nov.17
Brotherly love: Safdie and Pattinson
CANNES FILM FEST
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E|
With a grimy B-movie vibe, this film propels the audience into a twisted odyssey with a loser who simply can't get a break over the course of one long, nasty night. It's shot and edited with lurid style, accompanied by a pulsing electronic score that makes it feel like it belongs in the 1980s. As events spiral further out of control, it begins to feel rather scripted and contrived. But it's still fascinating.
Connie (Pattinson) is a low-life criminal who calmly holds up a New York bank with his mentally slow brother Nick (Safdie). They almost get away with it but as they run, Nick is arrested. For help paying Nick's bail, Connie turns to Corey (Leigh) for help. But this doesn't quite work out, so he decides to break Nick out of jail. While planning this he meets Ray (Duress), who is coming down from a bad acid trip, and 16-year-old Crystal (Webster). Both have something Connie might be able to use to enact his next brainwave.
The Safdie brothers direct with an in-your-face style, mainly using either close-ups or aerial angles. Scenes are flooded with colour, kind of like the ink-bomb the bank teller puts in the bag of cash. And the actors all deliver full-on performances that are physically extreme and bursting with big emotions. It's so intense that we can't help but be drawn into the story, even if it's not easy to sympathise with anyone.
Pattinson tears into his role as a smart guy with no common sense. He reveals gears turning as Connie comes up each last-gasp solution, refusing to accept that his ideas are ultimately hopeless. But he's driven by his need to protect Nick, who is nicely underplayed by Safdie. Leigh revels in her hot-mess role, while Abdi is terrific as a security guard unaware how desperate Connie is. And Duress is oddly sympathetic as another loser who knows better.
Basically, these people all know better, and the movie pushes them beyond the realm of plausibility. Piling all this mayhem on Connie over one night is a bit much, especially as the film travels to some very violent places along the way. In the end, it's clearly meant as an ode to brotherly love, which is surprisingly touching. But the low-key arthouse coda feels anticlimactic after all the over-the-top chaos that went before. Even so, it's impossible to look away.
|R E A D E R R E V I E W S|
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© 2017 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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