The same can’t be said for Bruce Willis. He dies hard in the opening scene when he appears as Truelove’s criminal dad, in full make-up consisting of age spots and weird hair implants. Willis not only looks ridiculous, his acting is less than average. Maybe he needs bullets coming at him to act reasonably well.
Sharon Stone, on the other hand, is hardly recognisable as the mother of the kidnap victim Zack Mazursky. Stone, who is often cast as a sex siren, is completely different in this role, being an overbearing and emotional mother. It’s a stretch for her and at times she seems to be overdoing it.
Even with a talented support cast, overacting seems to be a problem for many of the young actors. In one instance a supporting actress screams inaudible dialogue at the top of her lungs, when she learns that the kid they’ve been partying with is actually a kidnap victim. It’s unclear why Cassavetes would encourage this, but maybe it’s to emphasise how far out this story is. Instead it detracts from a true story that is unbelievable in itself.
The movie is not all about drama. There are some comic moments to cushion the frantic tragedy that unfolds later in the movie. There are also many warm moments, making Alpha Dog a must-see movie. Not since American History X (1998) and Mean Creek (2004) has a movie tried to tackle teen violence, and actually succeed. Granted they are very different movies, but they show a scary side of American teens.
In addition to the social commentary about the absent parents, this movie raises many questions about the root of violence. Writer/director Cassavetes gives the view a few options, but never really provides an answer. No doubt he expects us to draw our own conclusions.
- Nomfundo H Mbaba+Tshabalala
Alpha Dogs may be shot like a music video, but it's really a wakeup call for parents.
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Hands of Stone is a bland, unlikable portrayal of a real-life boxer that struggles to hit the highs of Rocky IV let alone Raging Bull or the original Rocky. Mark this one down as “for boxing fanatics only”. Read More »
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