Monday, June 2, 2008
We Own the Night (James Gray, 2007) B+
The opening to James Gray's We Own the Night is, bar none, one of the most brilliant of the decade. We first meet Bobby (Joaquin Phoenix) emerging from the shadows of his apartment hallway to have a quick makeout session with his hot girlfriend (Eva Mendes) before he has to go downstairs to take care of a problem at the club he manages. And did I mention it's all set to the tune of Blondie's "Heart of Glass." Minutes later, Gray juxtaposes with that another party going on across town. It's intent is to celebrate Bobby's brother Joe (Mark Wahlberg) and his promotion to Captain in the NYPD. There are shots of kids running around, a band playing in the background and food being served like a traditional pot luck. Gray makes it clear that these two worlds couldn't be any more different. The rest of the film is interesting because it plays with our expectations of what this type of police thriller should be. In a normal film, you would have gotten enormous gun fights, a melodramatic reunion between Bobby and Joe and an uplifting ending. Instead, the finale is rather subdued and almost anti-climatic, the moment that Bobby and Joe finally "reunite" is quiet and the ending is surprisingly bittersweet.