Re: RARA-AVIS: The Hard-Boiled Dick softens up

From: Doug Bassett (
Date: 10 Feb 2000

I really like HEAT -- in fact, I think it's going to be looked at as one of the great films of the Nineties. I have a different take on the movie, though: in my opinion it's not the attachment to a girl that destroys De Niro's character -- it's the attachment to his way of life. I think it's made clear that he could've escaped if he'd really wanted to, but ultimately what he really wants is revenge. And that ultimately kills him.

Similarly, it's clear that Pacino really only lives for the hunt. Ultimately his current wife is going to split, leaving him alone (as we see him at the end of the movie). Rather than point up the characters'
"softness", what these relationships really do is point up the characters' hardness. The difference with HEAT, I think, is that the movie is quite critical of this hardness. In that respect you're right, the hardboiled ethos is "undercut". Or at least questioned.

I highly recommend HEAT. Good performances and a few great action sequences -- the bank robbery about halfway through is jaw-dropping.


--- Philip Benz <> wrote:
> While I would not call it a "hard-boiled film", I
> think it's interesting
> the way it toys with (even <gasp> deconstructs) the
> hard-boiled persona
> by focusing on each character's underlying values
> and his attachment to
> a wife or girlfriend.
> De Niro, the quintessential brainy bad guy, claims
> that
> whatever attachments to people and things you make
> in his business, you
> have to be ready to drop them in 30 seconds and move
> on -- a sort of
> hard-boiled mantra of self-reliance. He tries to go
> against his timeworn
> principles and retire with a girl he's fallen for,
> but it destroys him.
> Pacino and even Kilmer have their own spins on the
> hard-boiled vs
> romantic angle, and the film as a whole spends quite
> a lot of time on
> these emotion-laden interludes that give the
> potentially hard-boiled
> heros soft hearts that rob them of that title.
> There's a tension in this
> film between the two poles that I think reveals
> things about both
> attitudes.
> This film left me feeling rather dissatisfied, but I
> can't help
> wondering if it isn't because I'm too strongly
> enamored with the
> hard-boiled/action approach for me to accept the way
> it gets undercut.
> Unless it was just a weak film. Without De Niro and
> Pacino with their
> usual stirling performances, would it have flown at
> all?


===== Doug Bassett
__________________________________________________ Do You Yahoo!? Talk to your friends online with Yahoo! Messenger.

# To unsubscribe, say "unsubscribe rara-avis" to
# The web pages for the list are at .

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 10 Feb 2000 EST