The Narrows (November 1/09)
Awfully familiar yet superbly acted, The Narrows follows sensitive bad boy Mike Manadoro (Kevin Zegers) as he reluctantly takes on a job delivering packages for a shady mobster (Titus Welliver's Tony) in an effort to pay for college tuition - much to the chagrin of his connected father, Vinny (Vincent D'Onofrio).
Mike's relationship with a pretty fellow student (Sophia Bush's Kathy) only complicates matters, and it's not long before the aspiring photographer finds himself caught between two worlds.
It's a pretty standard storyline that's consistently elevated by the uniformly compelling performances, with Zegers' strong work certainly matched by the efforts of his various costars (D'Onofrio's expectedly idiosyncratic turn remains a highlight).
Director François A. Velle - working from Tatiana Blackington's screenplay - generally does a nice job of capturing the almost small-town feel of Mike's insular neighborhood, though the filmmaker's penchant for punching up certain sequences with needlessly ostentatious visual choices becomes increasingly distracting as the movie progresses.
It's also worth noting that The Narrows suffers from a third act that's far more plot-heavy than one might've liked, which ultimately ensures that the movie fares best in its smaller, distinctly low-key moments.