The Yards

This melancholy crime thriller is suffused with a sense of foreboding before you know a thing about the shady dealings in which its characters become enmeshed. Leo Handler (Mark Wahlberg) is fresh out of jail, having taken the fall for friends. He's coming home to a sick mother (Ellen Burstyn), a cluttered room in her rundown apartment and regular appointments...read more

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Reviewed by Maitland McDonagh
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This melancholy crime thriller is suffused with a sense of foreboding before you know a thing about the shady dealings in which its characters become enmeshed. Leo Handler (Mark Wahlberg) is fresh out of jail, having taken the fall for friends. He's coming

home to a sick mother (Ellen Burstyn), a cluttered room in her rundown apartment and regular appointments with his parole officer. But there's a light in the gloom. Leo's Aunt Kitty (Faye Dunaway) has recently remarried, and her new husband, Frank Olchin (James Caan), is a successful businessman

who can be counted on to help out family. Unfortunately, the kind of business Uncle Frank does with New York City transit department runs on bribes and favors and strong-arm tactics. Leo and his best friend, Willie (Joachin Phoenix) — who's dating Leo's foxy cousin Erica (Charlize Theron)

— get involved in some rough stuff, and Leo, who won't murder a witness whose testimony could bring down the whole house of dirty cards, sees no way out that doesn't involve betraying someone he loves or owes. Steeped in the brazenly corrupt politics of New York City before it was polished

and franchised and licensed into a gleaming Potemkin village, James Gray's second movie is, like his earlier LITTLE ODESSA, a morality tale in which morals are a miserable liability. Unlike many filmmakers, Gray doesn't condescend to his outer-borough characters and elicits pitch-perfect

performances from his ensemble cast. That the film rings so utterly true is probably due in part to Gray's having been raised in Queens, as well as having a father (a partner in a company that supplied electronic parts to the MTA) who was caught up in a scandal involving bribes and false billing,

echoed in the one that ensnares Frank Olchin.

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  • Released: 2000
  • Rating: R
  • Review: This melancholy crime thriller is suffused with a sense of foreboding before you know a thing about the shady dealings in which its characters become enmeshed. Leo Handler (Mark Wahlberg) is fresh out of jail, having taken the fall for friends. He's coming… (more)

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