For Reel

Rampart (2011)
January 14, 2012, 6:58 am
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Oren Moverman

After his first feature, The Messenger, Oren Moverman appeared to be an actor’s director, eliciting great performances from Ben Foster, Woody Harrelson, and Samantha Morton with an aesthetic sensibility that was minimalist and unobtrusive. In his sophomore effort, Rampart, he so frustratingly suffocates the material with his decisions in editing and camera placement that he disrupts the actors at every turn. Woody Harrelson plays an unlawful Los Angeles police officer who is filmed while brutally beating a suspect, thus creating a scandal and putting his job at stake. By often placing the camera far away from the action in order to act as a voyeur, Moverman intends to suggest Harrelson’s paranoia as he begins to suspect that he was set up. In doing this, however, Moverman doesn’t add to the performance, but instead appears to be trying to do all of the heavy lifting himself. Frankly, even without the obnoxious camerawork and editing techniques, Harrelson’s performance is simply too subdued to suggest a man at his breaking point, and in the end the film attempts to draw sympathy from the monster before adequately incriminating him for his actions. While the picture has some interesting things to say about a man’s relation to his duty and, after consistently being put in his place by women, a crisis of masculinity, Moverman sabotages the potential with his overeagerness behind the camera.