Saturday, March 22, 2003
Written and Directed by Joe Carnahan
Despite the harsh viewing conditions under which I was forced to watch NARC, I still came away thinking I had seen an exceptional, hardcore police drama. Back up a minute, I saw the film in Long Beach, I won't say the name of the "theater" but it's on PCH. Anyway, the sound was a bit muffled--I thought about asking the manager if any pillows had gone missing lately, and if they could have ended up packed in front of the speakers--and on top of that, the picture was framed improperly, the mattes on the sides stayed all the way out, you know, for a widescreen cinemascope movie, but NARC is flat, meaning it ain't real wide. So I've got fuzzy edges on the sides, and about two feet of picture spilling onto the black matting underneath the picture. But hey, they got my money, that's all they care about. Jackasses.
Now to the film. Ray Liotta in top form, dramatically, not physically, that is. He gained twenty pounds for the role, not sure why, maybe just for a different look. He plays a sad-sack cop named Roy Oak, whose wife died of cancer a while back. Seems his partner, an undercover drug agent, was killed, and the case went cold, and was shelved. Enter Jason Patric, whose brooding, sedate acting style fits this role like a glove. Patric's character, Tellis, was involved in a shooting, which got him suspended, or was it fired? (like I said, the sound was muffled) Tellis is down and out, in need of a job, he has a baby, and a wife with one foot out the door. Tellis gets an opportunity to work with Oak in reactiviating the cop-killing case. He finds that Oak, while a good cop, tends to operate outside of his authority. The film does trod through familiar territory, but deals with it more intelligently than your average Hollywood fare, and seems well-researched as far as the police work goes.
For the most part, it's a quiet film, which I tend to like, not a lot of music swells to tell us when something emotional is going on. The whole thing is emotional, frankly. The camera work is documentary-like, and voyeuristic at times, like we are intruding into personal moments that we shouldn't be seeing. There's a nice little moment when Tellis' wife comes home while he's asleep. She slips off her shoe, and wakes him up by rubbing her foot in his face. It's sweet and warm, and really helps bring us to the characters. There are some surprises, and it's hard to predict where it's going, that's always a good thing. The ending literally leaves the audience to confront a moral question. Sure to provoke dicussion amongst viewers, good to see with a group, maybe before dinner. So, after you've seen it, drop the Snobs an email and let us know what YOU would do...
Posted by DW Smith at Saturday, March 22, 2003