Years after his wife’s unsolved murder, Norman Reedus has retreated within himself, carrying on a morose existence in a low-end apartment, gloomily taking part in unofficial greyhound racing. His neighbour, Emmanuelle Béart, is in love with him. Since Reedus is obsessed with solving the murder to the exclusion of any other human interaction, Béart decides to present him a solution. Based on the tiny bits of information Reedus has on the suspect, Béart picks cabbie Harvey Keitel as matching the profile well enough to make for a good target. She begins a relationship with him in order to put him in the frame and give Reedus, though murder, the catharsis he needs.
So goes the setup of this interesting but flawed neo-noir. As one would expect in a noir, the plan does not go exactly as foreseen, and everything becomes increasingly complex and deadly. This is to the good, and there is some nice suspense that builds up, as one is worried first about one character, and then another. Reedus doesn’t have too much to do, and is too cold for audience sympathy to really develop, but Béart and Keitel’s walking wounded are compelling. But if twists and contrivances are all well and good in the genre, utterly insane coincidences are harder to take, there’s finally such a doozy in here that the story’s credibility is torpedoed. Along the way, though, the pic makes for gripping viewing.
The look and the feel of the film is going for would, I think, be described as artful grit. And artful grit and aesthetically pleasing grime is what we get with the picture. It is extremely sharp, with every pore and bead of sweat perfectly rendered. Edge and grain are not problems, and the blacks, which are present in abundance, are also superb. An excellent transfer. The aspect ratio is 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen.
Nice job here, too. The environmental effects are excellent, very effectively dropping the viewer into the middle of a New York City urban soundscape. Music and dialogue are fine, too. Both 5.1 and 2.0 options are available. The 5.1 is so strong that there is no reason to take the other choice unless your system limitations demand it.
This is one of those movies that I really wish were better than it is, because it has quite a bit going for it, and it’s disappointing to see the promise frittered away in the last act. Still, worth seeing.