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  Film Reviews: “Word-A-Day” Calendars Have Their Day: Road To Perdition  

Monday, July 29
“Word-A-Day” Calendars Have Their Day: Road To Perdition
First, to get it out of the way for everyone – Perdition: NOUN: 1a. Loss of the soul; eternal damnation. 1b. Hell. 2. (Archaic) Utter ruin. Your language lesson for the day, and the six weeks we witness in the life of Michael Sullivan, a hit man for a Capone underboss. This is the second effort from Sam Mendes, director of “American Beauty.” Mendes avoids the “Sophomore Slump Curse” and succeeds once again in the telling of the small stories that make up the biggest moments of our lives.

Based on the graphic novel by Max Allen Collins (illustrated by Richard Rayner), Perdition serves as a place of refuge for Michael Sullivan and his twelve-year-old son, Michael Jr. Let’s face it, Perdition looks pretty good when you’re up against the psycho son of your long-time boss John Rooney. Let’s face it, when you’re the designated “Angel of Death,” and Conner Rooney is giving you cause to say “aren’t we going a little too far?,” then you’re up the proverbial creek when push comes to shove.

Push comes to shove when young Michael decides to stow away in the car to ride while Conner and Sullivan ride on a job one night. What was supposed to be a simple warning becomes a vendetta killing for Conner – one that Sullivan is forced to complete. When Michael Jr. witnesses the murder, Conner questions the ability of young Michael to keep the secret. Trick is, Conner really doesn’t ask so much as plot for a knee-jerk reaction. Even though it is obvious Conner is despised by his father (played by Paul Newman), Daddy will choose blood over loyalty, intelligence and ability any day of the week. It is this decision that leads to the most unlikely father-son bonding movie.

I don’t want to give away too much of this movie, as it is well-worth seeing. So, I’ll take this time to do normal-reviewer-type stuff. First of all, this movie is an absolute visual masterpiece. I’ve seen just about every gangster film made and this is the first one I’ve seen that shows the absolute silence that is the life away from the job. It is a life of secrets that have to be kept, and these secrets permeate every square inch of the Sullivan household.    Mendes does a brilliant job of demonstrating this separateness from the world as it exists for the Sullivans. From this vantage point, Mendes then weaves a story about bridging the gap between stoic silence and contended warmth between father and son. It is a sight to behold.

In addition to a strong performance from Tom Hanks, Jude Law makes an impressive appearance in the film (yet another think I shouldn’t talk too much about). For those of you keeping the Oscar tally, expect to knock off a good ten nominations with this film alone.

The Usual:

Recommendation: Full-price, no questions asked.

Annoying Theater Goer: Lord-Mistress-of-the-Obvious (LMO). Sure, we saw this on a Tuesday, and the theater wasn’t all that full – for some reason, this is the main criteria for theater-goers of this type. They’re all the same. First, they sit there and seem like they’re going to be normal, even polite. But as the movie progresses, we begin to notice a few comments here and there…mostly small stuff. But then, once full LMO kicks in, then it’s just a constant barrage of insightful comments like “look a bookshelf,” or “I think he’s dead!” Ugh.

Main Reason To See This Film: The ads aren’t kidding. The movie really is that good.

Main Reason Not To See This Film: Okay, the ads are lying a bit. I’m not quite sure what Paul Newman’s accent is supposed to be, but old and dusty about describes it. Methinks it’s time for Paul to take a job behind the camera. Better yet, he and Joanne have earned their retirement – they should enjoy it!

MPAA Rating: R

Nudity: No.

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