Blood Ties

Blood Ties


Reviewed by: Richard Mowe

Guillaume Canet is one of French cinema’s most able actors and has earned his spurs as a director on such films as Tell No One and Little White Lies.

It is easy to why he was attracted to adapting to a New York setting the French film Les Liens Du Sang (Rivals) by Jacques Maillot in which he starred as the brother who works as a policeman in conflict with an older sibling (François Cluzet) just released from prison.

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Canet has a long-standing admiration for directors like Martin Scorsese and Sidney Lumet and the cinema of the Seventies.

Unfortunately despite an impressive cast including Clive Owen and Billy Krudup as the brothers Chris and Frank as well as the veteran James Caan as their ailing father, he comes unstuck. This is all the more surprising because he had the co-writing assistance of director James Gray.

There is a distinct lack of energy and focus especially for the first hour (it comes in at two hours and 24 minutes, longer than the original) when nothing much happens.

It is inevitable that the older brother will revert to his criminal ways, which he does with extreme violence, putting his sibling in an invidious position.

Owen, an unlikely choice as the Brooklyn gangster, hits his marks although the fraternal relationship with Crudup is never fully explored. Matthias Schoenaerts (from Rust And Bone) has a sinewy physical presence as a lowlife cohort but isn’t around long enough to make a difference.

Canet has a good feel for the period with music and vintage cars given plenty of prominence but the female characters, Marion Cotillard as a hooker on drugs and Zoe Saldana as Chris’s ex-girlfriend, emerge as ciphers rather than fully-rounded characters.

The film feels top-heavy and should either have been pruned to a crisp 90 minutes or expanded in to a television mini-series. Mean Streets it ain’t.

Reviewed on: 20 May 2013
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Brothers on opposite sides of the law come into conflict in Seventies Brooklyn.
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Director: Guillaume Canet

Writer: Guillaume Canet, James Gray

Starring: Mila Kunis, Zoe Saldana, Marion Cotillard, Clive Owen, Johan Matton, Billy Crudup

Year: 2013

Runtime: 144 minutes

Country: France, US

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