Blood Ties

Two brothers, on either side of the law, face off over organized crime in Brooklyn during the 1970s.

‘Blood Ties’ has a great cast, a talented director (Guillaume Canet, of the magnificent French thriller ‘Tell No One’), and an interesting 1970’s New York setting, but the script itself never fully clicks into place. It travels well trod ground with the story of two brothers, one a criminal, one a cop, and the challenges that come from living in these two disparate but interlinking lifestyles. Things begin when Clive Owen’s ‘Chris’ is released from jail, and settles back into his previous lifestyle before too long, which causes a rift with his policeman brother, Frank (Billy Crudup). Crudup and Owen are both good, and their conflict feels real, and it’s this relationship that forms the key focus of the film.

Besides the crime story, there’s another plot with Frank beginning a relationship with his ex (Zoe Saldana), after he arrests her partner, Anthony (Matthias Schoenaerts), and he is sent to jail. There’s a lot of characters in the film, and Canet never truly gets a handle on how much screentime each character requires or deserves, with many feeling unnecessary to the overall plot or themes of the film. Besides those I’ve mentioned, Mila Kunis and Marion Cotillard play past and present love interests for Chris, James Caan and Lili Taylor play family members, and there’s a multitude of cops including Noah Emmerich, Domenick Lombardozzi and John Ventimiglia, who all get a fair amount of screen time.

The film succeeds with depicting the conflict between the brothers, but the parts that happen around the sides don’t click together as nicely as Canet would like, and unfortunately that makes some parts of the film drag or feel unimportant. One of the main things to like about the film is the period setting, which is well depicted through the clothes, hairstyles, locations, but primarily the musical choices which are excellent throughout. Overall, this isn’t a bad film, and there’s much to enjoy, but tightening the plot and cutting some supporting characters would have done wonders for the overall experience.

Rating: 3/5

Directed By: Guillaume Canet

Starring: Clive Owen, Billy Crudup, Marion Cotillard, Mila Kunis, Zoe Saldana, Matthias Schoenaerts, Lili Taylor, Noah Emmerich, John Ventimiglia, Domenick Lombardozzi and James Caan

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