What Doesn’t Kill You

Director: Brian Goodman.
Screenplay: Brian Goodman, Paul T. Murray, Donnie Wahlberg.
Starring: Mark Ruffalo, Ethan Hawke, Amanda Peet, Donnie Wahlberg, Brian Goodman, Will Lyman, Angela Featherstone, Edward Lynch, Brian Connolly, Michael Yebba, Lenny Clarke.

“I’m sick of all this nickel and dime bullshit”

The Best Supporting Actor nominations in this year’s Oscars was arguably the toughest category of any. We had screen legend Robert Duvall in The Judge, a rejuvenated Edward Norton in Birdman, deserving winner J.K. Simmons in Whiplash and Mark Ruffalo and Ethan Hawke for Foxcatcher and Boyhood respectively. But, like me, what you may not have known is the latter two had already shared the screen together in true-life, little seen, crime drama What Doesn’t Kill You.Paulie (Ethan Hawke) and Brian (Mark Ruffalo) are a couple of small time hoods who can only muster small change from their petty crimes. This puts a strain on their personal lives and the bosses they work for so they decide to start aiming higher and branching out on their own. However, like most criminals, the deeper they get the greater the consequences.ย Brian wants out but Paulie is commited to achieving that one big score that will change their lives.On the surface this looks like it’s just another conventional, blue-collar crime drama but on reflection it’s much more than that. After it’s opening heist scene, we are taken back to the early days and how Paulie and Brian got involved in their errands for local gangsters and the lack of any other opportunity presented to them. Slowly Hawke’s character tails off and Ruffalo’s afflicted family man takes centre stage and the film becomes more about his personal journey: trying to make ends meet; remaining loyal to his no-hoper friend; kicking his drug and alcohol addictions and supporting his wife and two sons. All the while, he’s trying to stay one step ahead of the police and keep himself out of jail.The film works primarily on it’s realism: anchored by Hawke and, especially, Ruffalo’s excellent central performances, the characters feel real and the South Boston setting feels authentic.ย At one point there’s a shooting (I won’t say whom) but it’s a simple Pop, Pop, Pop… with a real sense of panic, helplessness and disorientation that you don’t often see in scenes of this nature. However, I would have liked Goodman to inject a bit more adrenaline into his heist or robbery scenes as occasionally they can feel a little flat and not as exciting as they could’ve been. That said, his focus on the more personal and heartfelt struggle of his characters impresses most and it’s a solid directorial debut.Unfortunately, the film wasn’t marketed very well and due to the collapse of it’s distributor (Yari Film Group) it was released on a very small scale. This largely contributed to it slipping through the cracks. Added to which, some of the film’s posters can make it look like a cheap B-movie and the fact that it’s title changed a number of times across many countries done it no favours either. It’s also known as: Boston Streets, Real Men Cry and Crossing Over. As you can see, the film never really had a chance. This is a real disservice, though, as it’s a fine addition to the genre and both Hawke and Ruffalo deliver some of their best work while Goodman (who also stars and co-wrote with Donnie Wahlberg) confidently displays his understanding of this harsh and unforgiving environment.In fairness, you’ll have seen many films like it before and it doesn’t really bring anything new the table but that’s no reason for it to be overlooked. (And it certainly didn’t deserve to be buried the way it was). If your a fan of this type of material and the leading actors, then these are reason enough to highly recommend it.Mark Walker

Trivia: The events are actually based on writer/director Brian Goodman’s own personal experiences up until the mid 1990’s.

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46 Responses to “What Doesn’t Kill You”

  1. Hadn’t heard of this, cheers for bringing it to my attention! I’ll be sure to check it out.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Its a solid crime flick, man. I hadn’t heard much of it either until I went on an Ethan Hawke binge and this surfaced. It’s a real shame that this never got the distribution it deserved. Check it out if you can.

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  2. I totally remember this film. I think here it’s called Boston Streets, if I’m not mistaken. It’s awesome you pointed this one out because it’s very good and unfamiliar. Nice!!!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Excellent! Glad to that someone else is familiar with it. I thought it was a great little film. Hawke and Ruffalo were fantastic and it’s a real shame that it sank the way it did. When a films name is changed (especially as much as this was) it never plays out well for its chances.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Sounds good, Muckers! Never heard of it. This weekend I’m watching a movie called Cut Bank that I’m excited for.

    Boat Drinks!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great review! Never heard of this movie before but crime drama, Mark Ruffalo and Ethan Hawke sounds like a really good mix ๐Ÿ™‚ Hopefully I’ll get a chance to see this.

    Liked by 1 person

    • If you like the sound of that mix then you’ll most likely like this film, Kim. It’s very good and I even wonder why I didn’t rate it slightly higher. Thanks for dropping by, Kim. Appreciate it! ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I haven’t even heard of this Mark, but sounds like it’s worth a look just for Ruffalo and Hawke. It initially reminds me a bit of The Town that’s also set in Boston.

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    • I hadn’t heard of it either, Ruth. I just stumbled upon it when I was trudging through Ethan Hawke movies that I hadn’t seen yet. I’m glad I came across it, though. It’s very good.

      I can see where your headed with the The Town is terms of its working class criminals but this is more of a personal journey taken from Ruffalo’s perspective. It’s actually based on the director’s own life experiences so he certainly has a good handle on things.

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      • Hey Mark, hope you are well. Say, I started watching this Scottish rom-com set in Glasgow and naturally I thought of you: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1808339/?ref_=nv_sr_2 I know you’re not into this genre & the reviews haven’t been kind but I LOVE the Glasgow setting & all the Scottish actors involved. I enjoyed it so far & it still feels more fresh than the typical Hollywood rom-coms ๐Ÿ˜€

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      • Hey Ruth, I’m doing not too badly. I’ve taken a break from blogging at the moment as the kids are on Easter holiday and I’ve been very busy with work related stuff.

        Glad thou brought this to my attention. I’ve actually never heard of it. I’m not the biggest admirer or the genre but I’ll always give a Scottish show a chance. I notice Gary Lewis is among the cast. I’ve met him on a few occasions and he’s agreed to do an interview with me whenever we can hook up time wise. I’ll definitely check this show out, though. I’m intrigued.

        As it goes, I watched an old Scottish movie from the last night. It’s called Restless Natives and as a fan of The Angels’ Share, you might enjoy this one. It’s a little dated as it was made in the 80’s but still a very lighthearted and enjoyable flick. Added to which, it’s my close personal friend Joe Mullaney who’s one of the leads. I thought I’d be criticising his acting but he was actually very good and it’s a shame that he never took his acting any further after the film.

        http://m.imdb.com/title/tt0089904/

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  6. I like the sound of this a lot. Hadn’t heard of it before, but I suspect that’s got a lot to do with those complications you mention. What a shame. But I’ll be on the look-out for this, I find the pairing of Ruffalo and Hawke pretty inspired (esp. now). Great review man

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    • The pairing of Ruffalo and Hawke works a treat, man. They’re both very good and the film is a great addition to the genre. Unfortunately, the complications involved have all but sunk the film and it deserves plenty more attention. I’m hoping that more people will check it out. If they do as a result of this short but positive review, then my work here is done! ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Pretty cool review. Thanks for shining a spotlight on this film. I hadn’t heard about it before! Will check it out. Big fan of Hawke and Ruffalo.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. The second film in a row that I haven’t even heard of! Very nicely reviewed as always brother. Anything with Ethan Hawke *and* Mark Ruffalo in it is worth my time!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve been checking out some lesser some stuff these days, bro, and I’m happy with the results so far. The last two films I reviewed were hugely enjoyable and Hawke and Ruffalo really make this worthwhile.

      Like

  9. Interesting, it did slip by me. I’m sort of tempted to taunt my friend with it, who happens to hate Ethan Hawke. Of course, I’m no fan of Mark Ruffalo, so it would be torture in equal measure for me.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Brilliant review, I like how you bring films that deserve more attention into the light.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I have seen this and it’s a wonderful little film. Ruffalo and Hawke are both great. Best of all So. Boston is really a character that really impacts everything taking place. Great review.

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  12. I saw this a while back and thought it was really good, mostly because of the performances. Ruffalo who always plays such a sweetheart really got to do something different here

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  13. I’d never heard of this one! Must track it down now, Hawke had two other great films last year (I loved Predestination). Sounds great.

    Nice write-up man, and thanks again for bringing a film I’d never heard of to my attention ๐Ÿ˜€

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    • Glad to be of service Jordan. If you can get your hands on it, check it out. I often find films with Hawke in them that really don’t get marketed very well. He’s done quite a few good little sleepers.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Indeed, I’m sure there is a bunch of films he has been in that I have missed. I don’t recall having seen him a whole lot apart from this year. But I thought he was awesome in Predestination and Boyhood so I’ll definetely have to track down a BR of this one

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  14. I have never heard anyone mention this film before. Strange given the fact that the 2 main actors were just nominated at the last Oscars. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

    P.S. I saw you went on an Ethan Hawke binge. What did you think of Predestination? http://fastfilmreviews.com/2015/02/22/predestination/

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I like the look of Hawke and Ruffalo together, looks like a decent pairing. I’ll give this a whirl if I see it’s on TV at some point. Nicely done sir!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I’m one of those people who has always overlooked this film, for some strange reason. I love everyone involved with it, so I need to seek it out soon. Nice review here, thanks for the reminder that I should see this one!

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s a good flick Alex. Well worth a look. It’s a real shame that it was marketed poorly and slipped under most people’s radar. I really enjoyed it. Thanks for checking in, buddy. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Like

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