Wednesday, January 4, 2012

What Doesn't Kill You

Directed by Brian Goodman.
2008. Rated R, 100 minutes.
Mark Ruffalo
Ethan Hawke
Amanda Peet
Will Lyman
Brian Goodman
Donnie Wahlberg
Angela Featherstone
Edward Lynch

Two lifelong best friends, Brian (Ruffalo) and Paulie (Hawke), and career criminals deal with the trials and tribulations of the life they’ve chosen.

Though neither is a likeable guy, their frustration with where they’ve found themselves draws us in. To facilitate this we get excellent performances from both Ruffal and Hawke. Ruffalo, in particular, is outstanding. It’s an unfortunately overlooked portrayal of a man with many demons. The city of Boston is also a menacing character. Refreshingly, it’s subtly so. Unlike a lot of other movies set there, this one never puts it in your face. There are no extended scenes scored by blaring Irish music, no ridiculously bad New England accents, no shamrocks and no references to the Celtics or Red Sox. Instead, the city either mirrors the bleakness or hope of our heroes, depending on what’s going on, or enforces its own will upon them. It not only helps set the mood, but to change it, as well.

Our two (anti) heroes work for Sully (Lyman). We know they’re frustrated with their position in his organization and have an idea of the type of relationship he has with them, but it could’ve been much more fleshed out. How what transpires affect him might’ve added even more depth. I would also like to have seen more Detective Moran (Wahlberg). The subplot involving his character and Brian could’ve developed into an intriguing cat-and-mouse but instead, it’s a wasted opportunity.

This is definitely for those of us into gritty, urban drama. It gives us great acting and a story that keeps us locked in throughout. Interesting tidbit: apparently, this is inspired by the director’s real life.

MY SCORE: 7.5/10

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