27 August 2016 | blanche-2
gritty film set in '70s NYC with some great acting and a derivative plot
"Blood Ties" is a remake of the 2008 film "Rivals" which starred this movie's director, Guillaume Canet. James Caan, one of the stars of this film, helped him infuse the translation with some New York lingo.
The movie is set in the '70s, with Chris (Clive Owen) just being released from prison after 12 years. His brother Frank (Billy Crudup) is a police officer who lets him stay at his place and helps Chris get a job. In one of the first scenes, the boys' father (James Caan) is released from the hospital after having a lung removed. He is being cared for by their sister Marie (Lili Taylor).
Chris doesn't keep his job, but he does get a girlfriend out of it (Mila Kunis). He has no money so he reverts to crime again. Apparently his years in prison have made him a ruthless killer. When Frank recognizes him at a brutal robbery of an armored truck, his own career is threatened.
Frank, meanwhile, is still in love with Vanessa (Zoe Saldana), whom he parted ways with, and she accuses him of stalking her. And Chris' ex-wife (Marion Cotillard) turns tricks; she wants money from him, supposedly for child support, but he knows it's for drugs.
This is the age-old story of two brothers, one (Frank) who grew up adoring Chris, who traveled to the wrong side of the tracks at an early age, and the decisions they must make as adults as they try to get their lives together.
The family dynamics are terrific and ring true, with Marie and her father desperately wanting the brothers to get along and the family to be back together; meanwhile, Frank and Chris fight verbally and physically. James Caan gives a wonderful performance as a frail, sick man who has trouble expressing his emotions. His scene with Frank is especially touching.
The acting overall is excellent from this fine cast. Clive Owen and Billy Crudup are two favorites of mine, and both play the different aspects of their characters beautifully. Crudup has the more difficult role, torn between his love for his brother and his work. As Chris, Owen is a pragmatic sociopath. He goes out and gets what he wants without any qualms of conscience, attempting to manipulate Frank with a little grin. All that brings them together is their love for their father and sister, but it's not enough and it's too late.
This movie made next to no money and played only 28 theaters. It's not the most earth-shattering film you'll ever see, and parts are on the slow side, but it definitely deserved being seen by a wider audience and have better marketing. It's a shame that the fine work these people did was seen by so few. Perhaps as a rental it will do better.