Friday, October 12, 2012

At the Movies: Killing Them Softly

On Monday night the Hubby and I attended an exclusive preview of Killing Them Softly at Hoyts Entertainment Quarter courtesy of Nuffnang.

Based on the 1974 novel Cogan's Trade by George V. Higgins. When two small time crooks hold up a mob protected card game unprofessional enforcer Jackie Cogan (Brad Pitt) is called in to investigate. The film updates the action from the 70s to the final days of Obama's race for presidency.

I have to say while I liked the movie it was not what I expected at all. I had expected this to be another glitzy Hollywood gangster movie that glamourised the violence but the movie had a very gritty real feeling to it. The film, although set over a short period of time has a slower more realistic pace to it with bursts of very real violence in which we hear every broken bone and see every smashed tooth. This is in-dispersed with many conversations and negotiations between characters that give more insight and depth to the roles.  The other thing that pleasantly surprised me about this film was the dark comedic moments that gave the viewer so relief from the intensity of the violence. These came mostly in the form of funny anecdotes being shared between characters.

Personally I felt that the films story line was a little weak. There seemed to be a lot left out and not as much background on the characters as I would have liked but I understand that the directors cut of the film was originally 2 and half hours long and this has been scaled down to an almost too short 97 minutes.

The film uses the heist and subsequent fallout is an allegory for the Economic Crisis and shows that the cutthroat crime underworld is not dissimilar to corporate America but this message is too strongly shoved in the audiences face. Even as a non-American with limited knowledge of their politics I felt that as an audience were almost led by the hand to make the correlation rather than creating a subtle message that may have been more poignant.

I thought that the film was brilliantly cast. Brad Pitt was perfect as the cynical and ruthless unprofessional  Gandolfini stood out as the washed up hitman with nothing left but booze and hookers.  Liotta was fantastic as the likable whose nothing more than a big fish in a small pond and up and coming actor Ben Mendelsohn was surprisingly brilliant as the incompetent thief and added some fantastic dark comedy moments to the movie.

Overall the whilst I liked the films gritty rawness, dark comic moments and the dialogue and negotiations between characters, I felt that there was lot of character background that wasn't explored that left it lacking something. I cannot fault the performances given by this cast of  accomplished and well established actors who gave the characters depth and realness.

The film gave me this overwhelming feeling that I cant explain that while a lot happened not a lot really happened in the film. I would be interested to see a directors cut if it is ever released  to see what we missed and I definitely want to read the book!

Thanks to Hoyts and Nuffnang for a great night out! 

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