Yup, That's the Hard Way All Right
mirasreviews | McLean, VA USA | 11/09/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Claire (Charlotte Ayanna) is a studious college student pursuing a degree in biology at a prestigious university. Jack (Adrien Brody) is a thief and con artist with a creative m.o. They come from two very different cultures and have disparate personalities. Yet, when they meet, they are immediately attracted to one another. Claire is drawn to Jack's scumminess and becomes infatuated with him. And although Jack tells himself that his attraction to Claire is purely physical, that may not be the whole story. When Claire's intense feelings begin to make him uncomfortable, Jack dumps her. Claire's devastation sends her on a self-destructive binge, and Jack, who feels responsible, follows suit."Love the Hard Way" was inspired by a Chinese novel, the production is European, and it was filmed in New York City with a mostly American cast. Although the film has a strong sense of taking place in a certain location among a particular sub-culture, the story is surprisingly universal. An emotionally distant man discovers, the hard way, that love may be what he seeks after all. And a caring but naive woman discovers that her life may be found in the world outside her sheltered environment. The performances in "Love the Hard Way" are all admirable. Adrien Brody fans will want to see this one. He is especially good here. Pam Grier is a welcome addition to the cast in a small role as a police detective. "Love the Hard Way" was shot in just over a month on a relatively small budget. But the film looks great and the attention to detail is commendable. Writer/director Peter Sehr, producer Wolfram Tichy, cinematographer Guy Dufaux, and Christian Nauheimer, the film's editor, have all done an excellent job of pulling off a very good film that looks very good with limited resources. Recommended if you like character dramas or offbeat, somewhat hard-boiled, love stories.The DVD: The bonus features include a "making of" documentary, deleted scenes, a theatrical trailer, and a gallery of still photographs. If you have the time, I recommend the documentary. It's badly edited, too long (1 hour) and too repetitive, but it's interesting."
A dark drama with optimism
Larry VanDeSande | Mason, Michigan United States | 07/25/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This dark drama turns precipitiously toward Greek tragedy before ending with brief optimism, that apparently has not yet been realized in a sequel.
A crime drama, character study and love story, "Love The Hard Way" is an unrelentingly interesting and involving feast for the senses with some incongruous moments that are saved by searing performances from the two leads -- Columbia University student Claire (Charlotte Ayanna) and Jack (Adrien Brody), the amoral leader of a group of confidence men and small time crooks.
The film traces the romantic and unromantic interactions between the two and intermingles a multi-layered and multi-faceted story about two people and change -- one that promises to change but increasingly exhibits betrayal, and another has everything going for her, who then changes much for the worse. While every step of the story stairacse is not credible, every moment of the chemistry between the two very beautiful leads is credible and burns up the screen (big or little) with passion.
The story, and the personal interactions between the characters, are all aided by on-location filming in gritty and grimy sections of New York City. The photography is noirish with dark streets, half-lit rooms, rainy evenings and all the trappings of a Richard Widmark crime drama from 1955. A good cast of relative unknowns supports the two leads in this interesting modern take on film noir.
Also look for Adrien Brody in two other fine dramas -- his Academy Award-winning performance in "The Pianist" and the much lower profile but still rewarding "Oxygen" where he plays a character more in keeping with Jack from this story."
Ayanna will slice your soul
antistat | Culver City, Ca United States | 07/26/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This wonderful near miss of a movie was terribly treated by movie execs and critcs but the performance of Charlotte Ayanna alone is enough to make it deserving of a much better fate. From the moment she says "I'm dead" to the moment Jack goes to jail this flick is perfect and her performance as a devastated young woman on a downward spiral is painfully beautiful. Unfortunately, some clumsy dialog early in the flick and at the end made me wince but it wasn't enough to dilute the power of what Miss Ayanna did. This gal knows pain and was able to communicate it with breath taking honesty. And did I mention Adrian Brody? His performance is so real and watchable it's hard to understand how this movie passed so quickly under the radar. But all involved, including the director who did some wonderful things especially in that section I referred to above, should know that this movie will be penetrating the popular conciousness for decades to come. A special thanks to Miss Ayanna for having the courage to go deep into her soul where the meanings are."
Vincent Marius Gray | East Coast, USA | 10/12/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"It seems strangely coincidental that I saw this movie on cable late at night as well. Regardless of how I saw it, the movie was phenomenal in the sense it portrayed a form of reality in relationships, like "Requiem for a Dream" does. It is not a mushy lie and fabrication Hollywood innovated just to make you hope for a love that doesn't even exist like most romances. It portrays sacrifice between two lovers, a true and realistic sacrifice. But with such sacrifice comes sorrow, a deep seeded sorrow that seems irremovable by the end of the movie. It's up to you to watch it, obviously, but if you have loved and hurt before, it's the perfect cinematic piece of art to comfort your soul. I never thought a director could be so intelligent in the sense of seeing what love really means and then converting it into a piece of art."