Sunday, May 31, 2009

"Romeo Is Bleeding" - Oldman and Olin at their best

In my opinion, "Romeo is Bleeding" is both Gary Oldman's best movie and his best performance. His portrayal of an extremely corruptible New York cop is fascinating and magnificently-layered. Oldman's intensity as an actor is palpable without resorting to simply being loud.

The story: a traitorous cop is asked to tackle a job for the Russian mafia, and it brings him into the orbit of a mesmerizing woman (Lena Olin) with implacable and sultry survival skills.

The theme of this film is a story-telling classic: betrayal. The extent of betrayal here is almost unequaled; almost every person and ideal in the movie is stained by it. Duty, promises, allegiances - they're repeatedly marred by corruption and avarice. As his main traits, they're exemplified and thoughtfully-detailed in Oldman's lead role. He has real dreams and feelings, clearly loving his spouse - but he would fink on fellow cops and his wife for the smallest, or most transient, gains.

In this film, the physical and psychological cost of betrayal are presented throughout. Loss is the secondary theme here, and serves to compliment and expound on betrayal, as the film's central aspect; most people in this movie lose something, and you get to watch and feel it. And Gary Oldman sells it likes he's never sold it before.

Nor does he have to carry the whole film. Stroke-for-stroke, he's matched by Lena Olin. She portrays a devious, manipulative, and highly-intelligent member of the Russian mob; her strength, cleverness, and nerve are balanced by a sexiness that is volcanic.

A long-standing pet peeve of mine is the dearth of meaty female roles in mainstream movies. Here, Lena gets one of the best-written female characters ever and she completely realizes the promise of this part. Please, Hollywood! Write more roles with this depth!

The cinematography is excellent, so that the viewer is impressed by the use of locations as well as the actors in each scene. The film's pacing is perfect, moving from excellent action sequences to personal conversations, group interaction, or raw seduction. Unlike many action-thrillers, this is a touching film, and the ending is wonderful. To my mind, this is a perfect film.

1 comment:

  1. Though Gary Oldman was excellent in this as Jack the crooked cop, his best performance was in "True Romance" as Drexl Spivey, the white-wanna-be-black-man-pimp. That was a great performance. But everything he does is outstanding. Great blog. All the best.


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