Director Guillaume Canet (Little White Lies) is a French actor with 8 Directorial notches on his belt. He also co-wrote the screenplay from the adaptation of the book “Deux frères: flic & truand” by Bruno and Michel Papet and a remake of the film Les liens du sang by Jacques Maillot.
Set in Brooklyn, 1974, we see Chris (Clive Owen, Sin City) being released early from prison for good behavior after being sent down for 12 years for the murder of the man that had raped and killed his girlfriend, but he had been a serial offender all his life. Now in his 50’s he is met by his brother Frank (Billy Crudup, Eat, Pray, Love) outside the prison gate, who takes him to see his father Leon (James Caan, The Godfather) along with their sister Marie (Lili Taylor, The Conjuring). They go to the hospital where he has had lung problems, but still wants a cigarette.
Doing his best for his brother he finds him a job at a garage, menial but employment to keep the judge happy and that’s the way Chris wants it, for now.
Frank even tries to reconcile him with his ex-wife Monica, (Marion Cotillard, The Dark Night Rises) and his children. While working at the garage he meets secretary Natalie, (Mila Kunis, Ted) who is having trouble balancing the cash, so he gives her the deficit. She stops in a car later, with a friend and takes him for drinks and they get on well, unlike the relationship he has with his hooker, druggie ex-wife.
He even tries going straight with his childhood friend Mike, (Domenick Lombardozzi, S.W.A.T.) who wants to open a hotdog stand in the park, they do up the small shack only to be shafted by the red tape, so they torch the place.
Now the lure of a quick buck is tantamount, when you have a new girlfriend that you wish to give everything to. So they take on a hit and he earns a wodge of cash and he starts his life again but it isn’t all good as his brother is suspicious of the cash he is flashing. What can Frank do when he has his police superiors breathing down his neck that he has let his felon brother live with him since leaving prison? With the threat of losing his badge what does a brother do, even one that let Chris and Mike get arrested when they were little kids and he was the look out.
And what can a brother do to make amends for all his misdemeanor’s, because blood is thicker than water, even if your brother couldn’t handle being with a black woman, the woman he truly loves Vanessa, (Zoe Saldana, Out of the Furnace).
A good film and a great cast but it just seems the director concentrated on the fighting between family and siblings, trying to bolster the back story. Lose half an hour and it would have given it a punch, rather than feeling like your brother sat on your back for a long time.