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We Own the Night

Two Brothers on Opposite Sides of the Law. Beyond Their Differences Lies Loyalty. 

Year: 2007 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: Unknown 
Certificate: BBFC 15 Cert – Not suitable for under 15s 
Subtitles: This film is not expected to be subtitled, though this cannot be guaranteed. 
Directed by Unknown 
Starring: Unknown  
An image from We Own the Night

Director: James Gray

Starring: Joaquin Phoenix; Mark Wahlberg; Eva Mendes; Robert Duvall

Coming off the back of a standing ovation at the Cannes Film Festival, James Gray's tale of allegiance reaches us with the promise of powerful acting and an emotive screenplay. In mixing two worlds on either side of the law, a family finds itself split in half as one brother, Bobby, goes his own way, becoming the manager of a successful nightclub in 1988 New York. Things for Bobby could hardly be sweeter. Success brings with it the promise of expanding his influence in the nightclub and beyond, and the love of a beautiful woman, Amada (Eva Mendes).

Success, however, proves fragile when one considers the opposing elements of Bobby’s life. His awareness of his boss Marat’s (Moni Moshonov) use of the club for high-money drug deals gives him information he is unwilling to take advantage of. He is not interested in involving himself in the deals, and yet is not willing to act as an informant – despite his father (Duvall) and brother (Wahlberg) holding senior roles in the New York Police Department.

Eventually, his father’s patience wears thin and Bobby suddenly finds himself in the middle as the forces raid his nightclub, kick-starting a tirade of violence that will come to test the family’s ties in ways none could have expected. Where do Bobby’s allegiances lie when his family is attacked? Bobby could have it all if he turns to the opposite road, leaving his family behind. The question now remaining is whether blood-ties mean more to Bobby than the life he has carved out on the periphery of New York’s drugs-trade.

Keeping an intense focus on its central theme, We Own the Night leaves us with chilling perceptions that formidably alter the status-quo. When your own desires take you away from the life you could have had, the life everyone wanted you to have, do the ties to that life still matter? With siblings so utterly opposite as Phoenix’s adventurous, exciting Bobby and Wahlberg’s serious yet cocky Joseph, can there be any reconciliation? The performances of the two provide stirring exchanges and the unsettling, though intense, elements of the film. More than aptly supported by Duvall and Mendes, one can see why Cannes rose from its seats.

Rhodri Renno

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Screenings of this film:

2007/2008 Summer Term (35mm)