Brad Pitt’s newest film, “Killing Them Softly,” debuted at the Cannes Film Festival on Tuesday to rave reviews and some budding controversy.
One critic called the crime drama “scathingly anti-capitalist entertainment,” while another noted that the film begins with an excerpt from Barack Obama’s 2008 Democratic National Convention speech: “What is that American promise? It’s a promise that says each of us has the freedom to make of our own lives what we will, but that we also have obligations to treat each other with dignity and respect.”
Does that mean “Killing Them Softly” looks upon the last four years of President Obama’s presidency as a failure?
“I was there that night in Chicago when Obama won,” Pitt said at Cannes following the debut of his film (via THR). “It was an amazing night, people out in the street, connected.”
Pitt later added that the use of Obama’s famous speech was not done “as a cynical look back at a statement of failure but as a real expression of hope.”
Based on the novel by George V. Higgins, “Killing Them Softly” focuses on a hit man (Pitt) who tracks down a bunch of small-time hoods after they rob a Boston poker game. The film apparently presents the criminals as an allegory for the American public in the wake of the 2008 financial collapse. As The Guardian‘s Peter Bradshaw noted in his review, one criminal “has to be whacked for robbing some other wiseguys’ poker game: he didn’t do it, but someone has to be seen to get killed for the sake of confidence and prestige. And the hit men will have to accept a reduced fee in the current economic climate.”
“I always feel that crime films are about capitalism because it is a genre where it is perfectly acceptable for all the characters to be motivated by the desire for money,” New Zealand-born director Andrew Dominik said about his new film. “In some ways, the crime film is the most honest American film because it portrays Americans as I experience a lot of them, in Hollywood, as being very concerned with money.”
“Killing Them Softly” — which the Los Angeles Times called the “first post-Occupy” film — arrives in theaters on Sept. 21 via the Weinstein Company.