PRIDE AND GLORY
November 6, 2008, at Movies 14, McKinney
I have been a fan of crime dramas for as long as I can remember. My parents introduced me to some of the great cop series of the 70s and 80s, and even before that I was addicted to Nancy Drew and her crime-solving ways. My favorite tv shows are procedurals, and nothing beats a gritty, engaging film about good cops and bad cops. Pride and Glory has every element that makes me love a film, and it stars two of my favorite actors, as well. I was certain I would enjoy every second of this movie even before I set foot in the theater. Thankfully, it did not disappoint.
The story has been widely played in the marketing of Pride and Glory, and there are few actual surprises to be found in the film, but that did not diminish my interest. Knowing the story upfront actually made for a better viewing experience in that I was not paying such close attention to the details, thinking I had something to figure out, but rather I was able to sink deep into the lead characters, played by Edward Norton and Colin Farrell. It is these two who give the film its intensity, and it is these two who carry the story forward. Their dynamic is precarious, both walking a fine line between honesty and loyalty. And while Farrell is very good in his role of Jimmy Egan, a sergeant who lost four of his men to his own dirty dealings, it is Norton who shines above everyone. As Ray Tierney he is tasked to search out the killer of the four officers and must come to grips with the hard truths that involve his brother-in-law Egan. Norton continues to be astounding in his roles, bringing an honesty and vulnerability to even the most hard-edged soul, and in his role of Tierney he displays pure anguish at what he learns about the case and how involved is his own family.
While Ray’s conscience provides the drama of the story, it is the supporting players who provide a surprising amount of heart. Written by Gavin O’Connor, who comes from a long line of police officers, this story could easily have been a hard-nosed expose of police corruption, but instead it is tempered by the revelation of individual family struggles. Ray wrestles with the final days of his marriage; Jimmy works overtime to keep his home life separate from the job; and Ray’s older brother Francis, CO of Jimmy’s precinct, struggles with a terminally ill wife who is depending on him to keep life together once she is gone. By returning to these stories, even in small moments, the film reminds how far-reaching are actions and consequences, no matter how much control we think we might have. This is what really impacted me the most about Pride and Glory. Yes, it’s a gritty, dark crime drama, but it is also a story of devotion and family. And I believe it was very well told.
There was one significant moment for me, relating to my personal interest in the two main actors, and I have to admit that it came as a complete surprise. My newfound interest in Edward Norton has been well-documented by me over the past year, but the fact has always remained that Colin Farrell is a mainstay on my list of favorites. You can imagine my utter surprise at sitting in the cinema and watching Norton more closely than Farrell in their combined scenes. Norton’s performance (and I’d have to say, his sheer talent) simply compelled me to study him every moment he was on screen. And while I still adore Farrell and find him enormously talented in his own right, I have to admit that Norton was the victor in this battle for my attention. It’s a great problem to have, of course: two favorites in the same project, onscreen at the same time, forcing complete attention to the end. If Hollywood wants to continue this trend, well, I’ll just happily endure the sacrifice.
image from Rotten Tomatoes