Good, solid film making. This one will stand the test of time.
I've read all the posts and I can't believe the low ratings this movie has received from other viewers. My only guess is that they must not "get" this film.
I just watched Ed Burn's 2002 Ash Wednesday on the IFC Channel for the first time. Prior to this viewing I had seen all of the previous and subsequent films that Mr. Burn had written, directed or starred in, and, quite frankly, even though I enjoy his work, I recognize that his movies would be of rather limited appeal to the general audience. His pictures are small, deliberate, cogent, authentic, but I would never here-to-fore have described any of them as great, or myself as a fan, but
That's all changed with this viewing. Set in 1980s Hell's Kitchen it is a story of murder, redemption and eventual salvation. The story and the characters could have been any Catholic minority in any period or location, and the Hell's Kitchen of the movie, regardless how fictional, had a veracity that reverberated with my experiences growing up on the mean streets of Southeast San Diego in the 60s. The same tight-lipped hard guys and gangsters, the same cycles of violence, revenge and retribution. It could just as easily been filmed about Logan Heights here or Compton up in L.A. Spare dialog, taut action, tight direction. Nice to see a gangster film without huge explosions, car chases, a million rounds fired or an astronomical body count. Quite realistic. All in all a very satisfying movie, possibly a great one.
Elijah Wood is a perfect cast for the younger brother innocent of his father's & older brother's deadly exploits, and who, in an attempt to save his older brother from the three men sent to kill him, sets up the scenario for the action of the film. Oliver Platt and Malachy McCourt were great as the local gangsters that Francis Sullivan (Ed Burns) must appease, and each and every other actor in this film is put to good use. I found the action, pacing, locations, set ups, lighting, dialog, camera-work, editing and direction to be of good caliber. A smart little film with nary a single Hollywood moment. Ash Wednesday proves to be what Mr. Burn's films have always been: small, deliberate, cogent, authentic.