Bent (1997) Poster


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didi-55 May 2004
When Martin Sherman's play first appeared (with Ian McKellen as Max and Tom Bell as Horst) it caused outrage and much discussion with its sympathetic and frank treatment of forbidden love in the age of the SS.

Here it has undergone a few changes but retains its stark power. Clive Owen (probably not my first choice for the role) plays Max, the homosexual who pretends to be a Jew so he is not at the bottom of the pecking order of prisoners. The way the SS force him to prove his sexuality is shocking whether on the printed page, in a theatre, or up on the big screen. Brian Webber plays his intellectual lover Rudy with some class and it is a brief but touching performance.

Lothaire Bluteau, who I had only seen before in 'Jesus of Montreal', was brilliant in the role of Horst, the prisoner with the pink triangle who awakens Max again from his imprisoned desires. There are quiet and intense scenes between the two that are almost unbearably moving to watch, and are done within this film extremely well.

Elsewhere in the cast, Ian McKellen himself plays Uncle Freddie (but those of us who saw him as Max would love to have seen that portrayal immortalised on screen), while Mick Jagger is surprisingly good as Greta (a role which could easily be played wrong but he's spot on).

This play/film is intended to make its audience confront their prejudices, to shock, move, and inspire them. I think it is an unmissable experience - a difficult one, but worthwhile.
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I am in awe
caejal11 July 2001
I sat down to watch this movie, and I was completely drawn into it. By the end, i thought that only 15 minutes had passed instead of an hour and a half. The subject matter (homosexual persecution during the Holocaust) was approached with the right amount of dignity and respect. Bent, furthermore, has the most powerful and original love scene that I have ever seen. I do feel that it needed more character development, but regardless it is an intensely psychological and powerful movie.
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Very difficult to watch...
ironheart-128 April 2004
Only half way through this film did I remember having seen a small theatre production of the play in Los Angeles a dozen years ago. I only remembered when the rock-moving scenes began. I don't recall being particularly moved by the play -- it may have been a condensed 1-act version or something. I only remember thinking it was too "talky." But, the film was very powerful and moving and enraged me! I'm also older and more aware of prejudice on every level. Every gay person...or minority of any kind (race, religion, etc.) should see this film just to remind them (us) of just HOW BAD it can get and how "humans" can become such sick animals as the Nazis were in this film. I kept thinking: "Hey, how can they keep blaming Hitler, when he was not there ordering the guards to torture and ENJOY hurting people like that?" Powerful film!
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An Unusual Depiction of Persecutions In Nazi Germany
BILLIII21 May 2003
Its always the Jew's travail I hear about concerning the Nazi Germany Period, but other GROUPS apparently got treated miserably as well, and this movie deals with one of them.

Pathos, tremendous camera action (black/white & technicolor), superb character acting, excellent thematic development and flow, and perfect music accompaniment.

I will see it again.
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I was moved by this movie
slayerlove139 February 2005
Warning: Spoilers
This is a very wordy and long-winded response to guajolotl ('s comment"Yetch!": In times of desperation and fear, people do awful, incomprehensible things. Everything you know is taken away, the comfortable fears of your daily life are stripped away in an instant and you are put in a situation you are completely unprepared for: you could die. People who live like us, who live safe, cannot comprehend the stark and brutal reality of facing your own death. A drag queen that descends from the air every night to serenade a drunken, orgiastic crowd of sexual outlaws may buy their own life with the lives of others. They may embrace a wave of evil and violence so that it doesn't pick them up and drag them under and do it with the same cool smile that they display on the stage. But their song is still bittersweet and regretful, they still have money and time and information for the people they betrayed. And on a train bearing you away from everything you ever knew or imagined for yourself, an outlaw who has lived running for a year before you were tracked down like an animal, you might simply sit (eyes to the ground) while they drag someone you love away. Maybe after taking home a cute blonde only to see his throat slit by storm troopers in your living room, you would listen when someone told you that in order to survive you needed to sit and listen to them torture your lover without moving to help him. And after hours of hearing his cries and screams and being unable to do anything (because there is no way this is your life and your out of you mind with fear and pain) you would say you didn't know your lover when his limp and bloody body was dragged before you. Maybe you would listen to a nightmare voice that ordered you to beat him because there was nothing else to hear. You would follow the one instinct that they had left you, the instinct to survive. By the time they tossed his body out of the train, would you have anything left to feel? When everything had been stripped away but your own life, what wouldn't you do to save it? And maybe your redemption would lie in love. Maybe when you saw someone (someone who had screamed at you and wanted you and needed you and laughed with you even in the face of death) refuse to let you go, run straight into the arms of death rather than let it shoot them in the back, you would finally become fully human again. The agony of that loss would rip through every part of you but you would feel it, you would know that you could feel. And when you took your own life it would be with the utmost dignity; you would stop fiercely clinging to the uncertain promise of survival and wrap your hands around the walls that bound you as you flew free.
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Too Stagey
tonymurphylee13 June 2007
Clive Owen plays Max, a loose, carefree, and cowardly playboy who is caught by Nazis along with his gay partner and shipped off to the Dachau concentration camp to do hard labor. He pretends to be in the yellow star unit meaning that he is Jewish instead of the pink triangle unit meaning that he is gay. But he meets a member of the pink triangle named Horst who he befriends and begins developing feelings for as they work day after day moving rocks from one place to another. The film is based on a play of the same name that gained much critical acclaim and won many awards. One viewer may realize this very quickly upon watching this movie as the film does feel quite staged. film works as a message film, the message being "be yourself". The film nails this concept pretty much solidly. Unfortunately, there are some distractingly bad flaws here. As I mentioned earlier, the film is incredibly staged. The film doesn't feel like reality. There are scenes that are so stage like in execution, it almost incites an unintentional laugh. There's even a scene of violence that feels extremely prepared and strangely very dance like. It's really too bad because there are some fantastic scenes herein. There is an orgy scene early in the film that is full of erotic passion and beauty. There are some harrowing scenes that take place on the train that are pretty disturbing. And there is an early scene involving Mick Jagger that is pretty interesting. Overall, even though it's interesting, moving and well acted, it's a poor film. There are some undeniably powerful scenes, but there isn't enough there for me. I recommend it if it sounds interesting to you. Just be prepared for some really sloppy directing.
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Do not forget-
first_casting-213 November 2003
This journey is filled with seductive images and feelings-feelings that we tend to forget until we are reminded that life can change on a dime-

There is a scene on the way to Dachau where the Max (Clive Owen) has to denounce knowing his friend..." He is not my friend".....reminicient of Judas denying Jesus....was it to save himself or his friend....the answer comes when one cannot no longer deny who you are- facing your truth brings-reclaiming your dignity-Max's final journey.

Lothair (Jesus of Montreal) and a new-comer, Jude Law (The Talent Mr. Ripley) add to make up a fine cast.

Splendid job by all-especially Mr.Clive Owen.

Take the journey -it's worth your time.
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Excellent drama
Boyo-212 November 1999
I had seen the play on Broadway twice, once with Richard Gere and David Dukes, and once with Michael York and Jeffrey DeMunn. The movie is very faithful to the play and was just as interesting, which usually is not the case. Mick Jagger is great as Greta. All in all, I'd recommend this movie and did not find it pretentious in the least.
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Blew Me Away (SPOILERS!)
Treize_Khushrenada11 August 2005
Warning: Spoilers
"Bent" succeeded in completely moving me. I'm known amongst my friends for not showing emotion during movies, but this one had me crying loud at the end. The performances by Clive Owen and Lothaire Bluteau were totally stunning and very believable. I also very much loved Mick Jagger's performance. And Nikolaj Coaster-Waldau! He was there for such a short part in the film but he amazed me! The violence did not seem to be too much, it was realistic and not overdone whatsoever. Some people seem to complain about it being too much like the stage play, but I actually preferred it that way. "Bent" is a truly beautiful story, I'm surprised I hadn't heard of it a long time ago. It's a great example of how horrid human beings can be toward one another, but also the true love and kindness that exists within us as well.
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Must See!!!
Brandy-2828 May 1999
What can I possibly say about this movie that would not bring me to tears. This movie was very powerful and thought provoking. I just could not understand the hatred for human beings, just because of what religion, sexual orientation, or whether they had a big nose. I just can't for the life of me figured that out. I guess I will never figure it out.

There were some very strong scenes in this movie that tugged at my heart. The ridiculous killing of men and women for no apparent reason other than what I said above. The never ending work the prisoners did was just unspeakable. The conditions, and also the ever popular "no touching each other". The latter is the most difficult to endure for two gay men captured and put to work in the concentration camps. In one powerful scene, that I have to admit I watched over and over about five times, during one of Max and Horst's (main stars) rock moving extravaganza's, they are allowed a three minute rest period while working a twelve hour shift. They are not allowed to look at each other, they must stand up straight looking ahead (some rest period huh). Well without giving away the scene. They have what we would call very graphic and arousing phone sex. And I have to tell you, I was right there with them. This scene really brought these two prisoners much closer together and very much in love. It was beautiful.

I have a couple of things that bothered me in this movie. I really hated the way the SS men spoke to the prisoners. I mean, one word sentences like "You" - "Walk" - "Friend?" - or "Watching You". I mean for a people who claimed to be the superior race, these guys were not intelligent at all. Also the fake train outtakes that were obviously superimposed into the movie. The scenes themselves were in black and white which told the audience that they were not from the original film, but from some other movie.

Overall, this movie was profoundly incredible. It is a must see for everyone, no matter what the content of the movie - gays, murder, sex, SS men, Hitler's BS , concentration camps. You have to watch this movie with an open heart and mind to actually feel for these people, not just because they were two gay men in love and pain, because they were human beings first and foremost. 7.5 out **********. See it, you will not be disappointed.
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A must see.....a never forget.
xanadu196117 February 2002
This film, based on the theatrical production, is a moving and powerful experience. It is both emotional and intense and its power moves even a cynic to tears. While hope bounds throughout the hopeless scenario, the overwhelming feeling is desperation and despair.

Though the settings are largely historically inaccurate, they convey the mood of the era precisely.

A must see for anyone in the GLBT community or anyone with an interest in the Holocaust.

Never forget.....NEVER AGAIN!
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Tragedy abundant!
kimbistrups9 May 2007
Warning: Spoilers
This is such an extraordinary movie, that I'm not even sure it's possible to convey it. It contains everything that a good movie should. Dynamic characters, a good plot that is not too obvious, love, hate, violence, decadence and death. All the actors are very good. Every scene seems to have a point even despite the pointlessness of the violence and the killing.

As i watched it, and time progressed I figured that the time Horst and Max spent in Dachau was supposed to be a catharsis for Max, teaching him not only that love is the only real reason to live, but also teaching him how to love! The film ends in the spring of 1945, and I was feeling so sure that the two of them would be together to experience the liberation by the Russians and so when i finally realized what was really going on I was horrified. It just seemed so pointless and meaningless. But then I suddenly got it. It was not pointless. Their lives had not been without meaning and their deaths weren't either. They loved each other and died for each other.

The film was just positively full of beautiful and captivating moments set in the stark contrast of the concentration camp. The scene where they make love without touching. The scene where Max warms Horst. The scene where Horst knows that he is going to die, and gives Max the secret signal that says he loves him. I think that he does so to save Max's life. And the very powerful scene where Max put's on Horsts shirt and kills himself.

This is a hard movie to watch. It's a hard movie to feel good about. But once I really took it in, once I understood it's underlying existentialistic points I actually did feel good about it, and would recommend it to you.
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If you didn't like it, you shouldn't be watching movies like this
trekker-624 October 1999
This movie was not a high budget movie, and you can tell. But what makes a movie? Not its high budget. The story and the characters make a movie, and this one had it. How brave of a group to go into this very untouched piece of history and show it so elegantly. While some of the scenes may have seemed a bit cheesy, or stagey as someone said earlier, you need to understand the position these people where in. While making love without touching may seem odd, or weird, that is all they had. That was all the human contact they had. If you can't see that you shouldn't be watching movies like this one.
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Very sad and very touching.
cLoNe23 August 1999
The play was great and I hoped the movie adaption will work. I'm glad to say it did.

Some bits weren't perfect, but the movie is still very sad and bitterly romantic. How sad and heartbreaking...

How could people do such things to other people?... Damn. Not an easy movie to watch, but still a must see. Great acting.
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Detailing the degradation of Nazi-regime victims...
moonspinner5528 August 2005
Homosexual playboy in 1930s Germany fights to keep himself and his gay flat-mate out of the grasp of Nazi soldiers, but they are soon rounded up and face the horrors of war. This tough-going drama doesn't delve too deeply into the Party's initial conflict over homosexuality, but it does touch on the labeling of gay men with the Pink Triangle, making them perhaps even more reviled than the Jews (Clive Owen picks the yellow Star of David symbol over the triangle, figuring being a Jew might actually help him survive). Initially arty presentation has flashes of pretension, but is still gripping on a visual and visceral level and very well-acted. It's almost two different movies, however, with a work-camp second-half given an appropriately straightforward, if unexciting, treatment. Adapted from the controversial play, the last act has perhaps more going on than is actually revealed, and the viewer may either feel the movie loses its energy and soul during this portion or that it is successful on an entirely different level. In any case, difficult as an entertainment, but certainly worthwhile for those curious about this lost chapter in history. **1/2 from ****
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Pink Triangle...lower than yellow star
JZvezda15 February 2003
In response to a previous review, claiming that we've seen the story of the holocaust told from everything but a dog's point of view:

Last time I checked, Hitler had never commanded his troops to raid kennels or stalk the general areas surrounding fire-hydrants to round-up deviant basset hounds or infidel poodles. So it should be a surprise to no one that finally, what we have here in "Bent", is the holocaust experience from the "other victim's" perspective --the unknown number of homosexuals who suffered and/or perished along with the Jewish. Woof. Or does this call for a meow?

Cinematically speaking, our story limps along clumsily until our main character and his cringe-inducing mate are captured by the Nazi henchmen. In other words: Hang in there...unlike Ozzy Osbourne, it makes more sense as it moves along. And I must say, if I were saddled with a whining, Guy Pearce-clone, ballerina-boyfriend... I might be moved to throw him off a train too. Almost everything post-capture is compelling movie-watching: Sad, repugnant, inspiring and most certainly disturbing. Not boring.

For the most part, "Bent" is a love story between two men in dire need and circumstance. Nowhere on screen have I previously witnessed such a convincing and moving portrayal of the bond of love between two gay males. And this feat is pulled off with amazing restraint, zero touch, and nary a spec of eye contact. Bravo to Clive Owen and Lothaire Bluteau, who despite their lack of character development command viewer interest at a consistent and affecting level.

It's no masterpiece for sure, but so what..."Bent" rocks. And it's a film that needed to be made... in spite of Mick Jagger, whose appearance here in cheap, waxy, drugstore lipstick is surely enough to make Milton Berle do 360 in his grave. Now *there's* a woof for ya'...
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Clive Owen has found a fan for life...
Kate_Ashton14 June 2001
I happened upon this movie in the "Sundance Film Recommends" section, and didn't even read the box before renting it. The name of the film sounded it turns out, it was from a bit of miscellaneous info stashed in my brain: Jude Law IS in this movie. Saying that, however, blink and you'll miss him. His role is exactly 2 lines, and he wears an eyepatch, so for those Jude fans on the prowl for great eye-candy, you may be disappointed.

Granted, you will not be disappointed with this movie as a whole. I was extremely moved by this picture; it has the wonderful, heart-wrenching quality that only a great play can produce, mixed with a very compelling lead actor and fabulous supporting cast.

Clive Owen as Max was a wake-up call; at the end you may be asking yourself, "where can I see more of this actor??". He plays his character with beauty, strength, and emotion under conditions that no lving thing should have to endure.

The rest of the cast is equally wonderful, especially Ian McKellan as Uncle Freddie. He adds that special charm that we expect from his performances, no matter how small the role.

This movie requires an open mind, and the ability to not deny the reality of horrific, true events of the past. Above all, to not deny the importance of love, that which always tests and strengthens the human spirit.
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barely watchable
goatyhead21 May 2012
Warning: Spoilers
I love historical dramas. This subject matter is very rarely talked about. Jews, poles, gypsies and other undesirables were all brutally exterminated. Homosexuals are very rarely talked about. So this subject matter seemed very interesting. From the start the movie seemed like it was going to be a musical, and i almost turned it off. Then it seemed to try to be a rip off of "party Monsters" but set in pre ww II Germany. The action seemed to get better and the story line started to develop. However the acting and the plot just falls apart, into something predictable and bland. The whole movie seems like someone who wrote a high school play was suddenly given a big movie budget but decided to keep it in a play format.
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An incredibly powerful, gut-wrenching film
convertibleguy20 February 2005
A completely overlooked chapter in the cruelty and horror other minorities suffered under the brutal Nazi's. Brilliantly acted, written, edited and directed, this film is the most powerful film I have seen in years. The "feeling without touching" scene is brilliantly shattering and moving. The casting is superb from Clive Owen, Jude Law, and Ian McKellan and especially entertaining was the performance of Mick Jagger. At times the cruelty depicted was painful to watch, especially the scene in the train, but realistic nonetheless. This film will have you running the full gamut of emotions. Why it did not win Oscars Best Picture and Best Actor for Clive Owen I will never understand. I highly recommend it.
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Too pretentious and stagey
jimbo-9321 May 1999
First, I admire the audacity of the filmmakers here. But, alas, this is a very bad film. People tend to tread lightly over and treat with "kid gloves" any movie involving the Holocaust or serious homosexual themes. Criticizing such films is tantamount to anti-Semiticism or homophobia. These filmmakers were probably trying to multiply such sympathies by using both themes. Its theatre source is apparent. It's pretentious and tries too hard to push our buttons. Bad outing.
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slow but good film
Johnny1015 June 2006
Bent was a movie i was once familiar with but have never seen due to it's NC-17 rating but i caught the R rated version and it was a good film. The beginning of the film was starting to steer me in the wrong direction but about twenty minutes in this film becomes engaging,sad,and powerful. Clive Owen gives an amazing performance in this film his character goes through many changes and Clive Owen adapts to each change. This film somewhat reminded me of Broke Back Mountain, not because of the homosexuality but how it is portrayed in both films it is portrayed in love, during the time periods of both films homosexuality was a forbidden love and that is what both films are about. Overall if you can stand some slowness and some bizarreness ( Mick Jaggar is in drag and sings all in the first five mins.) Bent is a film well worth watching. This movie deserves in R rating, there is a scene of pretty strong Sexual dialog and the violence may not be prominent but when it is on scree it can be extreme at times also there is some language.
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Powerful Performances (mild spoilers)
greenfaeriesunite12 June 2003
Warning: Spoilers
`Bent' has you feeling every emotion possible. Anger at Max and Horst's conditions. Rejoicing in their affection. Sadness at their pain. Hope for their future. Despair for their realities. This movie shows a rarely exposed side of the holocaust in a realistic, dramatic, and extremely serious representation of these mens' lives. Like the star of David, the pink triangle is a sign of hardship and pride. The last moments of this film enforce that with unforgettable clarity. This is a film that should be seen by everyone with a strong constitution, an open mind, and a caring heart.
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Pretentious Rubbish
Theo Robertson18 June 2002
If like me you live in Britain and stay up late you often find obscure films being shown on Channel 4 . One night I stayed up and by chance watched BENT. After I watched I realised I should try going to bed early

BENT starts off bizarrely with transvestites parading around one of which is Sir Mick Jagger so I was expecting a sort of camp version of CABARET , but explicit scenes of gay sex followed and after that the film descended into a very pretentious and obvioulsy stage based drama where Clive Owen looks grim faced and keeps repeating " This can`t be happening " over and over again . And despite what other reviewers have said about this film I found myself feeling nothing except terminal boredom .

In short this is the type of film that ruins the British film industry but which Britain continues to make despite a very limited market . And no I`m not being homophobic . If the characters had been , Jews , Slavs , trade unionists , communists or any other type of victim of Nazism I would still have hated this film
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I was expecting a good story...
trekwiz21 July 2005
The premise grabbed me; it is about a gay man sent to the concentration camps during WWII. I was expecting some really good things from it; as a gay guy looking for "gay entertainment," I highly dislike movies that assume gay people must want to see lots of sex, or stories about AIDs. I figured this would be something far different from that kind of garbage.

To say I was disappointed would be an understatement; it's a bad sign when I wished the SS would just shoot the main character and make it a movie about his boyfriend instead! I despised the main character...he was everything I could possibly dislike about a person all rolled up into one.

He's a multi-time cheater on the same person, a coke-head, a jerk, very promiscuous, makes (unwelcome) decisions for other people...throw in some domestic abuse and you've just about covered it.

He's someone I'd be ashamed to know...needless to say, it was impossible to sympathize with his wretched character. And I can't say I'm happy with the clear stereotypes of "gay life" being portrayed from the very beginning; they were horribly unflattering, and pretty much assume we're all drugged up "club boi's". In the end, this was just another gay sex movie, only it had what should have been a serious setting that could have made an important point. It failed.
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Contains spoilers
ruttlesRevenge11 June 2006
Warning: Spoilers
This is about the 'Pink Triangle' aspect of the Holocaust perpetrated by Nazi's in the pre-WW2 Germany. Homosexual men were rounded up and placed into concentration camps and made to wear the Pink Triangles. The movie's main protagonist Max lived the good life in Berlin (i.e. having as much sex and cocaine with as many sexy men as he could find despite being in a relationship with another man, much to his boyfriend's heartbreak) before the 'Night of the Long Knives' in which the Nazis rounded up as many of the openly gay men as possible. In the transition to the camp Max is forced by the guards to rape a dead 13 year old girl and to murder his lover in order to prove that he is not 'bent'. Max begins to deny who he really is, denying his sexuality and refusing to wear the pink triangle. He makes deals with the guards (by 'going down' on them) and in order to wear the yellow star instead (odd). While in the camp he meets and bonds with a fellow inmate called Horst. They gradually bond and "make love" to each other without actually physically touching each other (you have to watch it to believe it). As a result of this, Horst says that "We were real. We made love. We were human. They are not going to kill us". Horst challenges Max's denial of who he really is and Max admits that he loves despite not being allowed to love. The movie ends in tragedy but before that Horst has made Max proud of what and who he is and he starts to wear his pink triangle with pride. It is a story about love, intolerance and homophobia. The central message of the movie is voiced by Horst when he says about homophobia: "It is silly. The Harlequin Nazis, queer saints, queer geniuses and queer nobodies…we just people. That is why I am wearing this pink triangle and that is why you should be wearing it". The message being that we are all people that are of equal worth. This is Clive Owen's best work to date and despite him joining the Hollywood A-List since, with hits such as 'Closer' (also a good movie) and 'Inside Man' (an entertaining movie); this will always be my favourite Clive Owen movie.
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