Sunday, September 18, 2005

Harsh Times

Last night I saw Harsh Times at the Toronto International Film Festival. It was one of those films I probably would never have seen if it wasn't at the festival - too violent for my taste, not the kind of subject matter I find particularly interesting, and would something like this be worth forking out $12 for a ticket?

If this film comes to a theatre near you (though this may be doubtful - I can't imagine what it's rated) - it's well worth whatever they're charging for tickets. It is the brutally intense story of two lifelong friends, Jim (played by Christian Bale) and Mike (played by Freddy Rodriguez), who blow off looking for employment in favour of getting driving around the worst parts of Los Angeles with beer and dope and finding a whole lot of trouble. The screenplay is written by David Ayers of Training Day fame, and Harsh Times is his directorial debut.

I'm not giving anything away here when I say that I spent the entire film gripping the armrests while waiting for the characters to self-destruct - the audience is meant to feel that way and I could actually feel the stress of a couple hundred people rising in the theatre. The film is gritty and real and all consuming and Christian Bale's performance is brilliant. If you can stomach a lot of violence, a lot of stress, and an essentially sad story - see it.

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