Combustible Celluloid
 
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With: Mark Wahlberg, Joaquin Phoenix, Charlize Theron, James Caan, Ellen Burstyn, Faye Dunaway, Steve Lawrence, Andrew Davoli, Tony Musante, Victor Argo, Tomas Milian, Robert Montano, Victor Arnold, Chad Aaron, Louis Guss
Written by: James Gray, Matt Reeves
Directed by: James Gray
MPAA Rating: R for language, violence and a scene of sexuality
Running Time: 115
Date: 04/27/2000
IMDB

The Yards (2000)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Slack 'Yards'

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

For some reason this gritty, working class drama barely registered a blip in America, but was a critical success in France, placing on the year's ten best list in Positif. Perhaps it's because James Caan, Ellen Burstyn and Faye Dunaway appear in meaty supporting roles, giving The Yards the sensibility of a 1970s Hollywood film. But leads Mark Wahlberg, Joaquin Phoenix and Charlize Theron ground the film squarely in the present, when risks are better in theory than in practice.

Wahlberg plays Leo Handler, a barely articulate thug recently paroled and offered a job by his step-uncle (Caan). But Leo needs fast money to care for his ailing mom (Burstyn) and so he hooks up with his cousin's boyfriend (Phoenix) for some slightly illegal work. Their first job results in a murder and Leo gets the blame, so he goes on the run. The film adds an interesting dimension with the relationship between Leo and his cousin (Theron), with whom he is clearly, silently in love. But while writer/director James Gray tells the story with an impressive urban palette, set in and around the Queens subway car yards, it never really catches fire.

In 2005, Miramax released a director's cut DVD, complete with deleted scenes, a roundtable discussion with cast and crew, a commentary track (by Gray and Steven Soderbergh), and several featurettes.

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