|LFF Review: Rampart|
|Written by Ivan Radford|
|Monday, 17 October 2011 13:20|
Director: Oren Moverman
"You're a racist, a bigot, a womanising chauvinist and homophobic - or you just really hate yourself." That's what Dave Brown's daughter thinks of him. A bulllish cop with an old-school tendency for violence (especially towards black people), he's a relic of the police force. You can tell that from his nickname: "Date Rape Dave".
Famed for allegedly gunning down a date rapist in cold blood, Dave spends most of his time drinking, smoking and hitting on women.
In between random beds around LA, he returns home to his two ex-wives, who are all holed up under one roof with his estranged daughters. In short, Dave is not a nice man.
But Harrelson makes him annoyingly charming in one of his more impressive on-screen roles. Supported strongly by Robin Wright, Anne Heche and Ben Foster as a disabled junkie, Harrelson mines the depths of his screwed up psyche for all its worth, doing everything from beating up pedestriains to vomiting outside sex clubs.
Still, Harrelson's charisma can't compensate for a bad screenplay. Co-written by director Oren Moverman and James Ellroy, it bears all the hallmarks of Ellroy's absorbing portrayal of the LA cop scene, but none of his clever plotting. Either something got edited or Ellroy had a radical departure from his usual form.
At least it's beautifully made. One striking sequence round a table sees the camera spin in circles as Steve Buscemi and Sigourney Weaver make the most of their brief screentime. Moverman can clearly shoot LA's skyline in his sleep, but his scripting just isn't up to scratch.
Rampart's being presented by the London Film Festival as boasting "one of the most talked about performances of the year". That's probably because everyone's talking about how dull the rest of it is.
Rampart is a curious character study, but it struggles as a cop thriller.