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The Road to Perdition

Pray for Michael Sullivan 

Year: 2002 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 (Scope) 
Certificate: BBFC 15 Cert – Not suitable for under 15s 
Subtitles: The level of subtitling in this film is unknown to WSC 
Directed by Unknown 
Starring: Unknown  

Michael Sullivan (Tom Hanks) is a member of Jack Rooney's (Paul Newman) Chicago mob gang, and indeed looked upon by Rooney as a son. Rooney's own biological son, Connor (Daniel Craig), is jealous of the Sullivan-Rooney relationship and as such has developed a volatile personality.

After being asked by his brother what exactly it is that their father does for a living, Michael Sullivan Jr. (Tyler Hoechlin) hides in his father's car one night and accidentally witnesses Sullivan Sr. and Connor on a "job" that results in a murder being committed. The boy witnesses everything and is discovered outside in the pouring rain by his father, who must do everything to ensure that his son is protected, whatever the cost, particularly after Connor becomes ever more unreliable. His situation is complicated, however, by the appearance of Harlen Maguire (Jude Law), an exceptionally creepy character full of evil.

The performances are strong throughout. Tom Hanks once again shows that he doesn't have to play a nice guy (though the moustache is a little distracting) and the supporting cast is also dependable. Paul Newman oozes class and grandeur and anybody thinking that they'll come out of this film still liking Jude Law will be sorely mistaken. In his small but pivotal role he plays Maguire as a man lacking any feeling whatsoever. In his first prominent film role, Tyler Hoechlin, playing Hanks's son, is also strong, and provides the character with whom the audience will have most sympathy.

Director Sam Mendes (American Beauty) once again shows that he has an ability to represent on screen the complications of the human condition and in this film particularly places an emphasis on the various father-son relationships, all of which feature varying complications.

Road to Perdition is, quite frankly, depressing. You're not likely to come out of it with a smile on your face, and in many ways it is a frank and disturbing film. But that's what makes it so good.

Laura Watson

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Screenings of this film:

2002/2003 Spring Term (35mm)
2002/2003 Spring Term (35mm)
2002/2003 Spring Term (35mm)