There’s no prequel to Blood Ties, but perhaps there should be. It could provide a reason to give a damn about the characters. We could see the development of their conflict, the tension between brothers and the brothers’ tension with their lovers. Instead, Guillaume Canet’s film hits the ground stumbling as the disjointed picture jumps between characters seemingly at random, and never spends enough time to make us care, or wastes time showing just how shallow these horrible people really are. Coated in the veneer of a throwback crime drama, Blood Ties is an insult to its genre, its cast, and its audience...
After the screening, I was told that thirty minutes had been cut from the movie following its premiere at Cannes even though the finished feature wasn’t well received at the festival. Perhaps this cut footage shows the relationships breaking between the characters, but where we come in for this version, the characters are already bitter, spiteful people who are partway through whatever the story demands of them. Notions of brotherhood and forgiveness are completely superficial (as are Owen and Cotillard’s laughable attempts to do a Brooklyn accent).
Blood Ties operates on presumption rather than presentation. It presumes that we’ll accept the 70s crime drama candy coating even though Blood Ties doesn’t have a fraction of the power those movies had. It presumes the cast can carry shoddy characters whose motives are poorly drawn at best. It presumes the story can operate on the idea of past drama rather than actually showing or selling that drama. But rather than resting on presumptions, Blood Ties should simply know that pay-off requires set-up.