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I don't cheat on my taxes... you can't cheat on something you never committed to.


Rampart
(2011)

Woody Harrelson has been justly feted for his performance as a corrupt cop under investigation, but the film as a whole doesn’t quite come together. The verité camera work and loose structure (we follow Dave “Date Rape” Brown on the job, off the job, at home, the through line being the inexorable disintegration of his life) lend a fly-on-the-wall documentary sense to the coverage of his tribulations, although stylistic flourishes are employed to amp-up a sense of point-of-view (Harrelson on a drugs-fuelled binge for example).  The array of micro-roles (more than cameos, but you couldn’t call them proper supporting parts) include Sigourney Weaver, Ben Foster, Ice Cube, Ned Beatty and Anne Heche, but the most time is spent on the fractured relationship between Dave and his estranged lesbian daughter.

Perhaps the most striking characteristic of Dave, since the racism, sexism and general misanthropy are fairly common currency in the depiction of onscreen law enforcement these days, is his eloquent ability to respond to the system investigating him. This contrasts with his brutality and blinkeredness elsewhere. At one point Ned Beatty’s retired cop observes that when Dave joined the force he was unsure if he was an idiot or just bull-headed – there’s certainly no sense of the former although at times the dialogue (good as it is) has an over-written quality that brings to mind Dave’s suggestion to his daughter that she rehearsed a slice of vitriol aimed at him. I’m not sure a found footage movie scripted by David Mamet wouldn’t feel just as jarring.

I noted the comments earlier in this thread that the ending was disappointing/ abrupt; I didn’t especially feel that as it was clear Dave was fucked early on, whether this was spelled out in a scene or not. But the lack of finality does reinforce the sense that being willfully unstructured ultimately works against its impact.

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