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Clive Owen and Billy Crudup lead a powerhouse cast — including Mila Kunis, Marion Cotillard and Matthias Schoenaerts (Rust and Bone) — as a pair of brothers on opposite sides of the law in Guillaume Canet’s English-language remake of the gritty, 1970s-set crime drama Les liens du sang.
Blood Ties takes us back to the mean streets
of mid-seventies New York, a world of harried
cops, addled hustlers, and high-rolling
criminals. In this world, familial bonds
trump other loyalties. So the fact that Frank
(Billy Crudup) wears a badge while Chris
(Clive Owen, also starring in the Festival
premiere Words and Pictures) mixes with
hoodlums is less significant than the fact
that they're brothers. That's all that matters
in the end.
The latest from Guillaume Canet (Tell
No One) is the director's most ambitious
thriller to date, recreating the dingy swagger
of the pre-Giuliani era in meticulous
detail, while tracing every thread of Blood
Ties' knotty plot so as to keep us oriented
at all times.
We follow Chris as he leaves prison, tries
to go straight, and falls in love with Natalie
(Mila Kunis). We follow Frank as he tries to
juggle conflicting obligations to the NYPD,
to his siblings and ailing father (James
Caan), and to Vanessa (Zoe Saldana),
the former lover he's trying to win back.
Meanwhile, Monica (Marion Cotillard),
the mother of Chris' children, tries to make
a go of running her own brothel, while
Vanessa's ex (Matthias Schoenaerts) seeks
revenge on Frank.
The script was written by Canet and
James Gray, whose We Own the Night displays
a number of similar themes. It's based
on the Bruno and Michel Papet novel Les
liens du sang, as well as a previous French
film adaptation. But Blood Ties feels like
a fresh, vibrant take on tribal violence
and the primal struggle of brother against
brother, infused with Scorsese-like stylistics,
is especially good here-and Canet's thorough
attention to narrative complexity.
These ties tangle-you'll have to wait until
the bracing finale to see how they unravel.
- Guillaume Canet
- Guillaume Canet was born in
Boulogne-Billancourt, France. He
studied at the Cours Florent drama
school in Paris before launching a
successful acting career. His films
as director include the features
Mon idole (02); Tell No One (06),
which won the César for Best Film;
and Little White Lies (10), which
premiered at the Festival. His latest
film is Blood Ties (13).