(out of 5)

After decades of working with inmates and recommending their fitness for parole, spends his last months on the job before retirement with a case that throws him for a loop.  has been in jail for almost eight years for having burned down his grandparents’ house and, hoping to not to serve the last five years of his sentence, now brings his curiously intelligent charm to bear on De Niro’s hardened perspective. Complicating matters is Norton’s wife (), who constantly pursues the older man outside of his office in order to influence him in her husband’s favour, which eventually turns into a disastrous affair that puts De Niro’s ethical reputation at risk. Further jumbling up the mess is Norton’s recently discovering a strange cultish religion that sees his eyes opening up to a different path than the one he was originally pursuing, infuriating his wife who is starting to feel like she is wasting her time for a man who has decided to go loopy on her. This curious film, which also features a terrific as De Niro’s long-suffering, near-catatonic wife, is enjoyable for some exceptionally good performances: Norton pushes it with his raspy, tough-guy voice in an attempt to hide the fact that he’s a privileged white guy playing trash, but Jovovich is bewitching as his near-immoral wife whose idea of taking care of herself brings her to some interesting extremes. The problem is that much of the film doesn’t exactly make sense; De Niro’s affair with Jovovich is neither presented as a reckless indulgence or a tragic manipulation, so it’s hard to see how someone who has been on this job for such a long time would make such an easy-to-avoid mistake. It’s interesting to see a film that relies so much on character detail and not plot twists (a more conventional film would have had Norton trick De Niro into performing a bank heist or something equally ridiculous), but despite its many terrific pieces resting comfortably alongside each other, they don’t entirely fit.

, , ,

USA, 2010

Directed by

Screenplay by

Cinematography by

Produced by , ,

Music by

Production Design by

Costume Design by

Film Editing by

Toronto International Film Festival 2010

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