THERE are moments when Blood Ties feels more like a soap opera than a thriller.
Guillaume Canet’s film focuses on two brothers on opposite ends of the law.
Chris (Clive Owen) has just been released from jail following a gangland murder and has good intentions for a fresh start.
His younger brother Frank (Billy Crudup) is a cop with a bright future who struggles to relate to Chris but wants to help.
Although it is hardly a new idea, the story and themes about family and split loyalties meant Blood Ties had the potential to become a compelling crime drama.
But with lingering scenes of the brothers’ domestic life and relationships, soap-style melodrama takes precedence over genuine conflict and tension.
Blood Ties is set in Brooklyn in the 1970s and perhaps Canet wanted to pay tribute to the way films were put together in the era as well.
Back then, films tended to be slower moving and more brooding and self indulgent.
Canet’s leisurely pace admittedly gives you a better picture of the characters’ lives...but at the expense of the overall plot.
That is a shame because Blood Ties features an all-star cast including Clive Owen (Sin City), Mila Kunis (Ted), Marion Cotillard (The Dark Knight Rises), Zoe Saldana (Out of the Furnace), Billy Crudup (Eat, Pray, Love) and James Caan (The Godfather).
Canet also does a fine job of recreating 1970s Brooklyn.
But more was expected from the director’s first English language feature after his fantastic film Tell No One, based on the Harlan Coben novel.
That was a story full of twists, turns and surprises whereas Blood Ties sticks rigidly to formula.
Another problem is that the chemistry is lacking between leads Clive Owen and Billy Crudup as Chris and Frank.
The idea is that there is little difference between the brothers really – they have been shaped by contrasting opportunities, not opposing morals.
That tragic message could have been strong but just fizzles out because you will struggle to care about the characters.
Sadly, Canet’s film has also suffered in production hell. The original cut was about two and a half hours and has been edited to just over two hours.
So it is telling that it still feels poorly paced and overly long.
The film’s powerful ending redeems Blood Ties to a certain extent with all the plot elements coming together in a kind of perfect storm.
But like protagonist Chris on his release from prison, Canet’s film is all good intentions that go wrong.
- Blood Ties is in selected cinemas and also available for home viewing through digital download and on-demand services