We Own the Night James Gray

We Own the Night James Gray
James Gray is the kind of guy whose movies are roundly ignored on their initial releases but heaped with praise by a renegade faction of critics and fans. His We Own the Night was one such film, blown off last year for being entirely conventional when in fact it’s a classically constructed throwback made with everything the director’s got. Joaquin Phoenix stars as a club promoter oblivious to the criminal connections of his Russian employers. He blows off an attempt by his rigid cop brother and father (Mark Wahlberg and Robert Duvall) to use his knowledge to catch a drug dealer. Unfortunately, the brother gets shot and Phoenix has a crisis of conscience, leading him into the criminal underworld and out through the terrible redemption of self-denying cop love. Gray hasn’t got an ounce of "meta” in his whole body, he just tells the story with a mixture of grimy credibility and authentic melancholy that makes you give a damn. And yet, that no-nonsense approach somehow has more going for it than the showy grandstanding of last year’s American critical faves. I’ll take this movie over the pretentious inertia of No Country for Old Men any day; instead of constant overtures to a meaning that never materialises, there are scenes here that teem with a life and nuance that are infinitely suggestive. The film has been justly praised for its amazing car chase and climactic shootout but they’re just the plums in a pudding that’s delicious to taste if only you pay attention to the flavour. Extras include a great commentary with Gray, who offers none of the useless trivia that usually mar these things, as well as three excellent, informative featurettes that actually give insight into the process. (Sony)