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February 3, 2009

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DVD of the Week – Review of Pride and Glory (2008)

by HELEN GEIB

Pride and Glory is a police corruption drama starring Ed Norton, Colin Farrell, Jon Voight, and Noah Emmerich as the men of the Tierney clan. The Tierneys are an extended family of New York City police officers: brothers Francis Jr. (Emmerich) and Ray (Norton); their father Francis Sr. (Voight); and their brother-in-law Jimmy Eagan (Farrell). The plot revolves around Ray’s investigation of the killing of several police officers in an apparent shoot-out with a drug dealer. He discovers evidence of an intra-police unit criminal conspiracy that may implicate two of his own. The fallout is an attempted cover-up that leads to more deaths and exposes the fault-lines within the family.

The plot of Pride and Glory is absorbing and well-executed (excepting the unduly contrived end met by one of the main characters), while the film’s exploration of the intersection of individual moral choices and family duty gives it dramatic weight. Significantly, the crisis is triggered by conflicting perceptions of what kind and degree of loyalty is owed to the “brotherhood in blue,” an adoptive family that both reflects and distorts the Tierneys’ ties of blood and kinship. The dilemma is experienced most acutely by the brothers; the resolution illuminates their temperaments, upbringing, and linked, but distinct circumstances.

The film is also notable for a high degree of realism in depicting the urban landscape and working class lifestyle, a realism quite unusual in a Hollywood film. In the visual design, it is achieved by extensive on-location filming, the choice of exteriors and set design of interiors, and costuming. The realism also extends into the story in the entirely believable portrayal of the Tierney family dynamics.

Director Gavin O’Connor and cinematographer Declan Quinn convincingly capture New York’s grey, bleak aspect in winter. The city recorded by the camera is often ugly, at other times mundane; always far from the comfortable tourists’ view of New York at Christmastime. The images are unlovely, but frequently striking in framing, composition, and lighting. Shots of an abandoned car by the river, dock lights that look like votive candles, and a tenement stairwell linger in my memory.

Other new releases this week: Bottle Shock, Everybody Wants to be Italian, Hounddog, Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa, Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, The Secret Life of Bees, Zack and Miri Make a Porno


1 Comment Post a comment
  1. miriam
    Feb 3 2009

    I’m glad this finally made the theaters, though I wouldn’t rate it more than “pretty good” because of some plot weakness. But I liked the performances, especially Norton and Voight, and my eye was several times arrested by the beauty of light and images.

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