The Yards (2000)

Genres - Drama, Crime  |   Sub-Genres - Crime Drama, Family Drama  |   Release Date - Oct 20, 2000 (USA - Limited)  |   Run Time - 115 min.  |   Countries - United States  |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Jason Clark

This second feature by director James Gray has many of the same attributes as his stirring, bravely uncompromised first film Little Odessa -- Brooklyn setting, eclectic cast, bleak subject matter -- but unlike that challenging picture, this one falls into every crime family movie cliché in the book. Though one could praise the filmmakers for eschewing the standard flashy stylistics of most films set in this milieu, the film's relentlessly lethargic pace only highlights how familiar it all is, and Gray and a fine cast flounder when trying to discover the purpose behind it all. The landscape of the film seems right, but the pacing is way off, and the cast (many of whom are known to chew up scenery) is so subdued they barely register. The film is similar to Gray's first feature in its tragic tale of a family divided by violence and corruption, but also seriously underdeveloped, with a bevy of characters whose motivations seem puzzling at best. The Yards debuted at the 2000 Cannes Film Festival to mixed response, which continued at the Toronto International Film Festival, the same site where Little Odessa premiered in 1994.