'Crown and Anchor' Review: Newfoundland Is No Country for Old Men Directed by Andrew Rowe
Starring: Michael Rowe, Matt Wells, Natalie Brown, Stephen McHattie, Robert Joy
Published Aug 20, 2018Crown and Anchor is a hardcore-inspired independent melodrama starring Michael Rowe as James Downey, a somewhat crooked police officer serving justice (or something like it) on the streets of Toronto. Downey is the product of a dysfunctional childhood; he grew up with an abusive alcoholic father, but lives a straightedge lifestyle in defiance of his upbringing. Rowe co-wrote Crown and Anchor with his brother Andrew (who also directed the film) and journalist Matt Wells.
When Downey returns to his childhood home in Newfoundland for his mother's funeral, he is forced to once again confront the cycle of drugs, violence, sexual abuse and trauma that he turned his back on for the Toronto Police department. Downey's strain is repressed through his work ethic for Toronto's boys in blue (see: the opening scene where he violently assaults a suspect while on the job), but he soon discovers that his cousin Danny (Wells) has chosen a self-destructive life of crime and drug use as a coping mechanism for his inner demons.
Natalie Brown (The Strain), Stephen McHattie (Seinfeld) and Robert Joy (CSI: NY) shape the film's cast as the rest of Downey's extended family. From there, he must confront their tortured pasts so he can come to terms with his bottled rage and rescue his cousin from a beaten path.
The overlying theme of Crown and Anchor is its ties to '80s straightedge hardcore music. The film's soundtrack features a block of classics from Youth of Today, Side by Side and Gorilla Biscuits, among other quintessential anthems to pure life. As the plot thickens, the thematic use of hardcore becomes a lot less subtle, or believable, and more like an extended infomercial for the Revelation Records web store. It is hardly convincing to believe that a grown man would ever return to his childhood home, discover his old Project X tapes and take part in such violent, fleeting vengeance against a small town's drug cartel.
Instead of providing any sort of enriching socioeconomic commentary on why family violence and emotional damage can result in patterns of crime and drug use, the plot examines the symptoms of greater problems with an alpha-male machoism that is as insincere as it is problematic. The film gives a platform to the caricature of aged hardcore dudes who frequent barber shops, talking about the less sensitive, "good old days" of punk rock where things got taken care of with fists, not words. Crown and Anchor fails to break down the walls, but instead breaks a knuckle throwing winded punches at it.
(Piss N' Vinegar)