Rampart (2011)

Director: Oren Moverman
Writer: James Ellroy, Oren Moverman
Cast: Woody Harrelson, Robin Wright, Ben Foster, Cynthia Nixon, Anne Heche, Steve Buscemi, Sigourney Weaver, Ice Cube, Ned Beatty
Part of: Viennale

It’s 1999  in LA. Dave Brown (Woody Harrelson) is a cop who lives for his job and does not care so much about his methods as long as things get done. He lives with his two ex-wives, Barbara (Cynthia Nixon) and Catherine (Anne Heche), who also happen to be sisters, and his two daughters (one with each ex-wife) which goes surprisingly well, even though Dave drinks too much and spends most of his spare time looking for the next lay. After he gets filmed savagely beating a suspect, Dave’s live and job start crumbling around him.

Apart from the camera work, the movie was really good. Cast, pacing, characters and story really come very well together in this. Even though I don’t go for the cop dramas that much, this one was just very good.

To get the camera part out of the way: cinematographer Bobby Bukowski does manage perfectly to make this look like a film from the 90s, further strengthening the setting. That was extremely well done. But the camerawork was shaky and the positioning was always just a little off. The whole thing became positively grating in a scene where the camera keeps spinning in circles between Woody Harrelson, Sigourney Weaver and Steve Buscemi. Fortunately it’s not long, but it was nausea-inducing.

Apart from that though, the movie was really good. The pacing was pitch-perfect and tight and didn’t let you go easily. And the way the script traces the way Brown slowly falls apart was wonderful. One hell of a character development that moves the film away from the usual crime plotting towards a more psychological focus.

And Woody Harrelson does his role complete justice. He is just as intense and gripping as the story and the character and gives a performance you really can’t look away from. The rest of the cast – especially Robin Wright and Ben Foster – are brilliant, too, but honestly, they don’t stand a chance against Harrelson in this one.

It’s a really impressive follow-up to The Messenger on Moverman’s part and I’m looking forward to see what he’ll do next.

Summarising: Not perfect, but really good.

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