A runaway train
The Yards
Review by Ross Anthony

"Code of Silence" or "Honor Among Thieves" -- not that these are very exciting alternate titles, but then "The Yards" isn't hard to beat. Equally humdrum, the opening act (first third) of the film which slowly introduces the characters in the play.

Leo (Wahlberg) has just been released from prison and embraces his ailing mother. Willy (Joaquin), his buddy, is close with cousin (Charlize) who's stepfather Frank (Caan) runs a big train parts company that employs Willy and offers Leo a job as well. Willy and Frank keep the money coming in by "playing ball" with local officials and politicians. Soon Leo is in over his head.

A full act is too long to wait for a compelling moment. I must say, the film finally did "reel" me in mid-way through and held me near to the end with some very absorbing developments and a character or two to root for, but then traded those attentions for a cheap bit of melodrama. Ultimately, I left the theater saying "so what?" Additionally, the church organ soundtrack is somewhat disorienting.

This is obviously a product of a lot of talented people. The acting is strong (I love this cast!), the characters rich, the direction mighty, even some nice cinematography ... but where is the heart? A drama for the sake of drama? Perhaps one who appreciates a Shakespearean plot more than myself may find this family/power opera a bit more quenching.

  • The Yards. Copyright © 2000.
  • Starring Mark Wahlberg, Joaquin Phoenix, Charlize Theron, Faye Dunaway, Ellen Burstyn, James Caan.
  • Directed by James Gray.
  • Written by James Gray & Matt Reeves.
  • Produced by Nick Wechsler, Paul Webster, Kerry Orent at Industry Ent/Paul Webster/Miramax.


Copyright © 2000. Ross Anthony, currently based in Los Angeles, has scripted and shot documentaries, music videos, and shorts in 35 countries across North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. For more reviews visit: RossAnthony.com

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Last Modified: Saturday, 16-Sep-2006 07:40:57 PDT