Two Men in Town (2014)
Directed by: Rachid Bouchareb
Written by: Daniel Boulanger, José Giovanni, Olivier Lorelle, Rachid Bouchareb, Yasmina Khadra
Starring: Brenda Blethyn, Dolores Heredia, Ellen Burstyn, Forest Whitaker, Harvey Keitel, Luis Guzmán
TWO MEN IN TOWN (2014)
Directed by Rachid Bouchareb
After serving 18 years for murdering the Deputy Sheriff, William Garnett (Forest Whitaker) is released from prison on good behaviour to serve out the three remaining years, of his 21 year sentence, on parole. He’s reintroduced to society by new probation officer Emily Smith (Brenda Blethyn) who believes in rehabilitating criminals and allowing them to earn her trust by redeeming themselves. Her strict but forgiving attitude gives Garnett a sense of redemption and the chance to build a new life as an Islamic convert. After successfully gaining employment at a farm on the border and meeting a woman, things are beginning to look up for Garnett but with Sheriff Bill Agati (Harvey Keitel) and Garnett’s criminal cohort Terence (Luis Guzmán) stalking him at his workplace and his girlfriend’s home, Garnett begins to feel cornered…
Drama TWO MEN IN TOWN focuses on one man’s struggle to build a new life for himself after a troublesome past but can a leopard ever really change his spots?
The film is very much a personal tale of the character and follows William Garnett from behind bars to his release. Forest Whitaker puts on an amazing performance as Garnett, showcasing a broken man who is attempting repair his life after the terrible sins he’s committed. However, that fierce anger that got him in trouble in the first place continues to bubble beneath the surface with Garnett doing his best to keep a lid on his emotions and throw himself into prayer when the going gets tough. Judging from the opening scene of the movie, keeping calm is easier said that done.
What I thoroughly enjoyed about this movie is that it has given a platform for older actors and given them characters they can really work with. The main case in point is British actress Brenda Blethyn who’s tremendous as the no-nonsense but kind hearted probation officer Emily Smith. Women over a certain age hardly get parts like this any more and it’s a damn shame because they often bring an experienced quality to the character that a younger face would quite often lack. Brenda Blethyn has this in the character of Emily Smith, a powerful persona but someone who also has fun, likes to enjoy a drink and chats to her father on the phone. TWO MEN IN TOWN is not a film that resorts to creating older characters to poke fun at because of their age or are stereotypical retirees (Exotic Marigold Hotel would be a good example). Instead, they could have cast any adult age for these roles. They just decided that older actors would do just fine and that’s smashing! Much like The Calling that had Susan Sarandon in the sheriff role, TWO MEN IN TOWN is a perfect display of what can be achieved with an older cast and what we need more of in cinema today.
Harvey Keitel, Ellen Burstyn and Luis Guzmán are ever reliable in their supporting roles, as is Dolores Heredia who plays Garnett’s girlfriend Theresa. The way in which the characters interact with one another displays the two sides of the coin: those that are stuck in the past and want to drag Garnett back to his wicked ways (Sheriff Agati and Terence) and those who wish to see Garnett make good of his second chance (Emily and Theresa).
Whilst there’s a lot to enjoy about this film, mainly due to the amazing performances from all involved and the slick cinematography, it seems to be lacking a bit of depth outside the redemption element. This results in the movie being good but not “great”. By the end of the film, you will be wishing there was a bit more to sink your teeth into, but as it stands, TWO MEN IN TOWN an enjoyable movie in its own right.