We Own the Night

CRIME DRAMA; 1hr 57min

STARRING: Joaquin Phoenix, Mark Wahlberg, Robert Duvall

Family business: from left, Phoenix and Wahlberg

It’s 1988 and Bobby Green (Phoenix) is on a big-time high. As the manager of a Russian-owned Brooklyn nightclub and with a gorgeous girlfriend (Eva Mendes), his life is party central. Except that Bobby Green is really Robert Grusinky, and his battle-weary father, Burt (Duvall), and righteous brother, Joseph (Wahlberg), are both policemen. Narrowing the circle still further, the two are homing in on a Russian mobster (Alex Veadov) operating out of Bobby’s club. As the meat in a moral sandwich, Bobby’s choice of action could be his last.


Writer-director James Gray’s grim, purposeful screenplay takes a hard look at the needle-thin chasm between easygoing glamour and the muck that underpins it. Set in an era of rocket-fuelled disco decadence, We Own the Night is designed for those who like their cop dramas long and black. While not devoid of a stubborn glimmer of hope, it is the kind of somber scenario that wrenches bone-deep performances from its cast and puts Phoenix — one of today’s most focused and dedicated of actors — in his lacerating element.