In one of the most brilliant performances by Robert De Niro in recent times, this is an incredible story of self-control, desperation, corruption, love, betrayal, loyalty, and the pathos of a society that sustains its economy with a maximum security prison. As the seemingly circumspect parole officer, De Niro personifies the bureaucrat and the hard-nosed prison official– doing the right thing because he knows that he must, but also succumbing to his dark impulses because he seems to have no control over them.
The line between the law enforcer and the law breaker is a very thin one, and one that is prone to damage sooner or later. This is a story of how long that line remains drawn, and the slow but sure blurring of it.
In addition to De Niro, there are other performances, equally strong and stirring: there’s Ed Norton’s character called Stone, the quintessential white-trash boy, and his strangely amoral wife, Milla Jovovich. Also, the quiet desperation as portrayed by Frances Conroy, De Niro’s long-suffering wife Madylyn, who is as devout as she is an addict is masterful.
The story, incidentally is set in the suburbs of Detroit– an area that I am personally acquainted with.