Blood Ties

New York, 1974. Chris Pierzynski has just been released after years in prison for his part in a gangland murder. Waiting reluctantly outside the prison gates is his younger brother, Frank, a cop with a bright future. Chris and Frank have always been different, and their father, who raised them alone, has always favored Chris – despite all his troubles. Frank has known this since they were kids, and it eats at him like nothing else. But blood is the tie that binds. Frank gives his brother a chance: he shares his home, finds Chris a job, helps him reconnect with his kids and ex-wife. When Chris meets Natalie, the promise of a new life beckons, but his past quickly catches up with him, and his return to a life of crime is inevitable. For Frank, his brother’s descent is the final betrayal, and he banishes Chris from his life. Leaving the police department, Frank moves in with Vanessa, the former girlfriend of a dangerous Mob hit man. Chris has killed before, and he will kill again. Frank is powerless to stop him. But despite all the rivalries, the violent conflicts, the painful betrayals, Chris will stop at nothing to make the ultimate sacrifice.

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Guillaume Canet
James Gray, Guillaume Canet
Alain Attal, John Lesher, Hugo Sélignac, Christopher Woodrow, Guillaume Canet
144 minutes
Les Productions du Trésor
9 Apr 2014 (France), 3 Jun 2014 (US)
Billy Crudup (Frank), Clive Owen (Chris), James Caan (Leon), Marion Cotillard (Monica), Matthias Schoenaerts (Scarfo), Mila Kunis (Natalie), Zoe Saldana (Vanessa)



Guillaume Canet said: “It all started just after Tell no One was released in the United States. Because the movie was quite a hit there, I received a lot of proposals from studios asking me to direct movies in America. Mainly big money-making machines. I didn’t feel ready to take this path even though I felt quite excited about making a movie in the U.S., and in English. It wasn’t that I was obsessed with achieving the American Dream as a filmmaker or as an actor, but that I felt like working in a different way, and in English, and that I was keen to tap into the extraordinary pool of American actors. So I had this idea in the back of my mind but I was well aware that – control freak that I am – I’d never be able to make a film for a studio with a producer breathing down my neck and telling me what to do for each and every shot and throughout the whole editing process. That was why I had turned down every offer I received at the time. It didn’t stop my agent from insisting and trying again and again. So naturally I thought it over, and finally I came to the conclusion that the only way for me to make a movie in the U.S. was to go there with a personal project. But there was another problem: I felt totally unable to write a script in English on my own. One day, I got a phone call from my French agent saying that James Gray was in Paris and he wished to meet me after he’d seen and enjoyed Tell No One. We had lunch together and right away I had this weird feeling that I had known him for 20 years. A few months later, I ran into him at the Cannes Film Festival where he was a jury member. At that time the project of a remake of Blood Ties was shaping up and I was looking for a screenwriter with whom to co-write the film, someone who could set the story in New York in the 70s. I asked James if he knew of any possible candidates and his answer was brief and surprising: “Me!” – it was surprising because until then he hadn’t written anything for anybody else. But he said he liked the story and would be happy to work with me. To be honest, my immediate reaction was one of disbelief. And then he came to France to receive a tribute award at the Beaune festival. I managed to corner him for two weeks in Paris and we started writing. As you can imagine, I learned a lot from him. But not what I had figured on at the start. James taught me a lot of things about film structure whereas I had expected him to help me to adapt the story to New York. “