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Rated 3.02 stars
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ReelTalk Movie Reviews
Crime and Self-Punishment
by Betty Jo Tucker

Paul Bettany turns in a stellar performance as a modern day Raskolnikov in Blood, a gritty psychological drama about the downfall of a British police family. The other key actors  -- Mark Strong, Brian Cox and Stephen Graham – are also splendid here. In my opinion, this riveting film should receive awards for the great acting displayed by each of these men. And, although quite depressing, the movie is definitely worth watching, especially by discriminating viewers who enjoy an excellent character study.  

Like Dostoevsky’s Raskolnikov in “Crime and Punishment,” Joe Fairburn (Bettany) can’t rid himself of the guilt he feels over something horrible he has done. After all, he’s an officer of the law -- someone who should be protecting and serving the citizens of the small coastal town in Northern England where he lives. And that’s what he usually does, along with his brother Chrissie (Graham). But one fateful night …. hey,  you know I can’t tell you what happens then -- you’ll have to see the movie to find that out.

But I can reveal how terrific Bettany (A Beautiful Mind) is at showing the emotional roller-coaster Joe goes through as a result of that night. Fear, rage, and sorrow take their turns registering on Joe’s face – and Bettany is convincing in every scene, whether interacting with the worried brother -- who’s also a cop -- and forgetful father (Cox) or with Robert Seymour (Strong), a fellow detective who’s becomes suspicious of Joe and Chrissie. What’s particularly intriguing is that these cop brothers have been assigned to investigate the very case that has led to Joe’s psychological trauma.

Each of the key characters comes to life here, thanks to outstanding work by actors who appear at the top of their game. Graham (Boardwalk Empire) evokes our empathy for the shocked brother who’s unsure how to proceed when things get out of hand. Cox (Red) makes us both angry and sad as a former police chief suffering from memory loss but not able to stop meddling with things. Strong (Sherlock Holmes) brings gravitas to the role of a loner detective  with little admiration for the local “Fairburn” police dynasty.         

George Richmond’s (Wanted ) somber cinematography and Daniel Pemberton’s (The Awakening) background music add to the dark tone of this disturbing film. Director Nick Murphy (The Awakening) moves Bill Gallagher’s thought-provoking script along at just the right pace.  It’s not easy to tell the story of a tragedy on film -- and to do so in a way that moves viewers like me as much as this one. I think Blood ranks as one of the best films of 2013.     

(Released by RJ Entertainment; not rated by MPAA.)

Blood opens in limited release on August 9, 2013, and will be available on DVD beginning September 10, 2013.

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