Saturday, February 25, 2006

Force of Evil

Roberts Productions
Director: Abraham Polonsky
Length: 84 min.
Country: USA
Format: VHS
Date Viewed: 23 February

If it weren't for the striking photography, interesting stylization and good pulpy acting, Force of Evil would be a complete failure. As it is, the good points raise the film as a whole only to about middling territory at best. If the film's anti-capitalist message had not been so weak and naive, this may have been a great film.

Instead, its supposedly pro-humanist message sits at uncomfortable odds with its cynical contempt of women and also strangely asks us to feel sorry for those poor honest small-time criminals. You know the ones - they'll steal your money but are fair about taking it, they pay their employees well, and are just trying to get by; big crime syndicates and the police are horrible for trying to stop them. And how could you be mad at these small-time crooks? Look at the mechanics and real-estate agents, the film explicitly says (using these two examples), they are also crooks because their owners make a profit on their services and products, so why is operating a numbers racket be illegal?

Yes, naivete is the rule of the day in Polonsky's film. If the little guys were truly honest businessmen being squeezed by bigger companies and corrupt police, and had the filmmakers not seen women as being either nagging biddies, strumpets or self-destructive ingenues, the film's message would have been much more convincing. As it is, the film is too off-putting to work. You can safely skip this one.


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