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Monday, May 25, 2009

Alpha Dog

Starring: Emile Hirsch, Justin Timberlake, Anton Yelchin, Bruce Willis
Directed by: Nick Cassavetes
Genre: Crime Drama
Rating: 5/10

From the opening titles, I was dubious. Wobbly home videos of the cast to a background of Eva Cassidy's 'Somewhere Over the Rainbow' was a little low-rent and overdone. The initial scenes did little to improve my perspective; what I could see was young rich morons, masquerading as gangstas- they shot stuff, they swore at stuff, they objectified women (and the women abused minors in swimming pools), indulged in some good old substance abuse, and they did 'business' by putting people through coffee tables and defacating on oriental rugs. Thus far, a very intelligent film.
However, this film was not without merit- I did give it five out of ten afterall. The sets, although largely unimaginative, were stylish, and encapsulated the luxurious-turned-dangerous feel of the film. This feel was due to the fact that the wealthy, irresponsible idiots engage in what Cassavetes referred to as a 'prank gone wrong'- kidnapping Zack Mazursky (Anton Yelchin), to scare his brother, Jake Mazursky (Ben Foster), into paying back the money he owes to his drug-dealing acquaintances. The kidnappers show young Zack the time of his life, throwing him into a world of drink, drugs and bitches (hence the afformentioned swimming pool threesome)- before throwing him into a grave when the stakes get too high.
What saves this film from being another gangsta washout is a handful of notable performances, proving that what they lack in experience, they make up for in youthful exuberance; both of the Mazursky brothers (particularly Foster) are fairly remarkable; Justin Timberlake (yes, really) is surpringly awesome as nice guy kidnapper and moral compass of the film, Frankie Ballenbacher (the scene leading up to Zach's death between Timberlake and Yelchin is especially moving); and, of course, Bruce Willis, as the main kidnapper, Johnny Truelove (the weak Emile Hirsch)'s father. The main strength of this film is that the audience get to see the abduction from every angle- the Mazursky family, the Truelove family, the motley crew of wasted party-goers that take Zach under their wing, and the scores of witnesses who piece together this most unusual and tragic crime.

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