Judge Gordon Sullivan usually gets offered minimum wage.
Killer Instincts Wanted
Most people end up having a crappy job at some point in their lives, usually when they're young or desperate for money. That's one of the big problems with crappy jobs: because they're usually only taken by the young or the desperate, employers have free rein to ask employees to do borderline dangerous and/or illegal things. As times get tougher, more people are in a position to stretch the definition of what they're willing to do for cash. At least that's the premise of The Job, which takes a darkly-comic neo-noirish view of just how far a man will go when he's out of work and wants to marry. Although the setup and atmosphere have lots of promise, a slow pace and underdeveloped characters keep the film from reaching its full potential.
The Job opens with the plight of Bubba (Patrick John Flueger, Kill Theory), who has lost half a dozen or so jobs in almost as many months. He needs money so he can settle down with his sweetheart Joy (Taryn Manning, The Devil's Tomb). While visiting her at her waitressing job, he meets drifter Jim (Ron Perlman, Hellboy). Jim puts Bubba on the trail of a job with Perriman (Joe Pantoliano, Memento).
There are a lot of reasons to like The Job. The first is the film's tone. It completely nails, from frame one, a black comic neo-noir vibe that's fantastic. From the slightly washed-out colors to the slow buildup and stock characters, the whole film just drips in noir. Keeping in line with that, the basic story is fairly compelling as well. The idea of a man who is confronted with how far he's willing to go to make a serious chunk of change is an interesting one. The couple of hundred thousand in the offing doesn't sound like much to get excited over (at least in movie terms where the millions seem to rule), but the realistic number gives the story charm and credibility. The performances are also generally strong (and in Ron Perlman's case, too good, as I'll discuss in a bit). Patrick John Flueger as Bubba is likable as the everyday guy, Taryn Manning is similarly charming as his love interest and partner, and Joe Pantioliano gives one of his more understated performances as Perriman.
However, there's just as much not to like about The Job. Although the atmosphere and basic story are fine, the slow buildup gets to be a bit much, especially considering the so-so payoff. Initially, the speed of the plot establishes the atmosphere, but after the first act it only holds things back. Then, as the story completely unfolds, the plot seems to make less and less sense, at least from a character motivation perspective. The ending strives mightily to bring it all back together, but can't quite get all the pieces to fit. That makes the film's second half much more difficult to sit through. As I said, the acting is uniformly strong, and even Ron Perlman does a fine job. However, his character is so obnoxious that I wanted him off the screen after his first line of dialogue. Thankfully he's not the protagonist, but his presence in the film is hard to stomach.
On the DVD front, The Job is pretty standard. The 1.78:1 anamorphic transfer seems to keep to the spirit of the cinematography. Colors are a bit washed out, as expected, but black levels are consistent, and compression doesn't seem to be a problem. The surround audio track keeps dialogue audible, although the lack of English subtitles is a bit disappointed. Extras include a roughly 30-minute making-of, with interviews by all the major participants and some behind the scenes footage, and an alternate ending. Considering this film has its origins in a play by director Shem Bitterman, a commentary track would have been a great addition.
The Job gets serious points as an independent neo-noir. The atmosphere is there, as is a generally strong cast, but it fails to add up in the end. It's probably worth watching for fans of the actors or of more recent neo-noir in general, but for most viewers this disc is worth a rental at best.
The Job isn't quite guilty, but it's close.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Magnolia Pictures
• Alternate Ending
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