Love the Hard Way

"Good"

Love the Hard Way Review


That shiny Best Actor Oscar notwithstanding, the jury's still out on Adrien Brody's capabilities as an actor. Setting aside The Pianist, what do we have? A solid but small role in Summer of Sam as an anxious '70s punk. A solid but small role in The Thin Red Line as an anxious World War II soldier. A solid but small role in Liberty Heights as an anxious Baltimore Jew. And a journeyman job in his lead in Bread and Roses, where he played an anxious union organizer. All nice enough work, and Lord knows we need somebody to play those anxious roles now that Woody Allen and Bob Balaban are getting on in years. But as an actor, he deserves no more praise than any other young actor who's landed a few good parts -- Brendan Fraser, say, or Philip Seymour Hoffman. Brody is brilliant at playing the wounded man, and in the ear of burly mushmouths like Vin Diesel, that's daring. But it's not necessarily a great acting career.

Love the Hard Way isn't going to settle the matter. As Jack Grace, he's a conflicted, embittered, and, yes, anxious young man who commits small-time crimes in New York City hotel rooms. He and his partner Charlie (Jon Seda) use strippers and acting student to play prostitutes; dressed as cops, Jack and Charlie collar the johns and loot their wallets. It's a cheap life he's got, and Brody is sharp enough to play Jack as a guy who knows it. When he slips on his snazzy snakeskin jacket, he looks like he's trying too hard, and when he says he doesn't care for books or intellectuals, he's lying. His private office - which happens to be a pallet in a storage space - serves as his sanctuary, where he works on novelizing his own life and reading the works of Charles Bukowski and Ezra Pound, first editions of which he buys from a fence.

In short, he's the perfect combination of smarts and self-destruction, traits that draw him to Claire (Charlotte Ayanna), a pretty and naïve Columbia University undergrad. Similarly conflicted, she shuttles between good-girl charm (she's a straight-A student) and a need to break free and wreck herself for a while. The scenes showing them fall for one another have some grace and humor and eroticism, but not much in the way of chemistry. Director Peter Suhr repeatedly gives us sex scenes, but he has a hard time convincing us of the love part.

Blame the script, which fails to fill out exactly how conflicted these characters are. Despite some offhanded comments about junkie parents, Jack has no past and nothing that signifies why he is or isn't capable of love. And though it's not hard to find Ivy League girls who find it kicky to go slumming for a while, Claire seems all too willing to sacrifice whole pieces of herself for a go-nowhere schlub like Jack. All we get is some deep need in her for self-destruction. When her roommate tells her that Jack's going straight to hell, Claire responds, "maybe I want him to take me with him." That melodrama is bad enough, but the extent to which she tries to destroy herself in the film is simply unbelievable. Chemistry is entirely out the window in the film's third act, giving way to the plodding business of moving the plot forward.

But Brody and Ayanna do their best with this; better, in fact, than Love the Hard Way deserves. Face-to-face in restaurants and cars and coffee shops, they're clearly having fun, even if they don't always seems sure how to act around one another. And the smaller roles in Love the Hard Way give the film a lift: Pam Grier is excellent in her scenes as a vice cop, and Jon Seda's role as Charlie is yet more proof he needs bigger roles. The tough-but-tender approach he sharpened in his role on Homicide: Life on the Street serves him well here. He infuses his lines with acidic humor, which perfectly fits the awful leisure suits the role forces him to wear (in one scene he looks not so much dressed as upholstered). A few more small but solid roles like this and he'll be Oscar timber. Worked for Adrien Brody.

Shut yo mouth!



Facts and Figures

Run time: 104 mins

In Theaters: Thursday 27th March 2003

Distributed by: Kino International

Production compaines: Vif Babelsberger Filmproduktion GmbH & Co. Dritte KG, P'Artisan Filmproduktion GmbH, Daybreak Pictures Ltd.

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 28%
Fresh: 12 Rotten: 31

IMDB: 6.4 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer:

Starring: as Jack Grace, as Claire Harrison, as Charlie, as Jeff, as Linda Fox, Liza Jessie Peterson as Pam, Elizabeth Regen as Sue, as Debbie, as Cook, as Fitzgerald, Michael G. Chin as Asian Businessman #1, Ben Wang as Asian Businessman #2, Huan Wang as Asian Businessman #3, Ned Stresen-Reuter as Brian, as Cara, Jack's Lover, Lee R. Sellars as Dennis, Sylvia Kauders as Mrs. Rosenberg, as Librarian, Jeffrey M. Marchetti as Biggest Guy, John Elsen as Interrogating Detective, Miguel Sierra as Car Mechanic, Andy Duppin as Precision Driver #1, as Boris, Bobby J. Brown as Man in Video Arcade, Steven Goldstein as The John in Street, Cheyenne Casebier as Laura, Sara Klingebiel as Jill, Francisco Lorite as Barry, as Tunnel Bartender, Eric Kornfeld as Claire's Trick, Keisher McLeod as Hooker #1, Rue DeBona as Hooker #2, Amber Gross as Hooker #3, Gregor Manns as Large Man #1, Kevin Merrill-Wilson as Large Man #2, as Akiri, Robert McKay as Louis, Chazz Menendez as Prisoner #1, Charles Santy as Prisoner #2, Mick O'Rourke as Prisoner #3, Mitchell Washington as Prisoner #4, Deborah Braun as Lab Assistant, Tod Engle as Lucky Guy, Grace Garland as Female Port Authority Officer, Amy Laughlin as Vendor at Hotel Dior, David Ross as Russian Guy #1, Slava Schoot as Russian Guy #2, Jack Lotz as The John in Bedroom, Ernestine Johnson as Jack's Neighbour, Charles Duval as Waiter, Peter McRobbie as Prison Doctor

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Free State of Jones Movie Review

Free State of Jones Movie Review

Since its true story is still so timely after some 150 years, we can forgive...

Deepwater Horizon Movie Review

Deepwater Horizon Movie Review

This reunion of actor Mark Wahlberg and director Peter Berg feels like a natural successor...

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children Movie Review

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children Movie Review

Ransom Riggs' bestselling novel is appropriately adapted into a movie by Tim Burton, the gothic...

Get Back Movie Review

Get Back Movie Review

Roger Appleton's documentary 'Get Back' looks into the music scene that come out of Liverpool....

Imperium Movie Review

Imperium Movie Review

First-time filmmaker Daniel Ragussis takes an unusual approach to this thriller. Since it's based on...

The Girl With All the Gifts Movie Review

The Girl With All the Gifts Movie Review

Like a 10-years-later follow-up to 28 Days Later, this small British thriller takes a refreshingly...

The Magnificent Seven Movie Review

The Magnificent Seven Movie Review

Director Antoine Fuqua brings his usual fascination with violence to this remake of the iconic...

Advertisement
Bridget Jones's Baby Movie Review

Bridget Jones's Baby Movie Review

As it's been 12 years since the last Bridget Jones movie, expectations aren't too high...

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years Movie Review

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years Movie Review

A-list director Ron Howard worked with the surviving Beatles to assemble this engaging documentary, which...

Blair Witch Movie Review

Blair Witch Movie Review

It's been 17 years since The Blair Witch Project shook up the cinema and created...

Anthropoid Movie Review

Anthropoid Movie Review

Outside the Czech Republic, few people know about Operation Anthropoid, a spy mission in 1943...

Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Review

Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Review

From Laika (The Boxtrolls), this is one of the most beautiful, sophisticated animated films in...

Captain Fantastic Movie Review

Captain Fantastic Movie Review

An offbeat comedy-drama with a timely kick, this charming family road trip takes on some...

Hell or High Water Movie Review

Hell or High Water Movie Review

Sicario screenwriter Taylor Sheridan delivers another fiercely intelligent, engaging story that maintains high suspense while...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.