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`Violence’ is well-acted but too long

SHARE `Violence’ is well-acted but too long

It's certainly ironic that "The End of Violence," a film about some Hollywood residents whose lives are changed by violence, both real and imaginary, is so restrained in its depiction of violent acts.

This odd drama/conspiracy thriller has a disquieting and blackly comedic atmosphere that recalls the films of David Lynch in its sheer creepiness and Robert Altman's "Short Cuts" in its ability to intertwine multiple story lines.Like Lynch's films, "The End of Violence" also suffers lapses in logic and like "Short Cuts," it is too long (even after being trimmed from 150 minutes to 122) and has one story thread too many. That being said, the movie is thoughtful, troubling and well-acted.

The major story lines involve exploitative Hollywood film producer Mike Max (Bill Pullman) and surveillance expert Ray Bering (Gabriel Byrne). Their lives slowly begin to intersect because of the top-secret government project Ray is working on - helping install a series of hidden cameras around Los Angeles to help record street crime as it occurs.

Ray, who suspects the program actually has a darker purpose, is watching some of the camera footage when he sees Max being carjacked and tormented by a pair of dimwitted hillbillies (Pruitt Taylor-Vince and John Diehl). But the camera connection is severed and when it is restored, Max is missing and both kidnappers are dead.

In the month following Max's disappearance, his wife, Paige (Andie MacDowell), has taken his position as head of his film empire. Meanwhile, Doc Block (Loren Dean), the detective delving into the case, finds himself drawn to Cat (Traci Lind), a stuntwoman who may have been in contact with the missing man.

There's much more going on here (including thinly veiled swipes at real-life producer Jerry Bruckheimer), and sometimes the film's message gets lost in the dreamy imagery. But Wender scores points as often as not, and the ending is a genuine shocker.

On the acting front, Pullman and the little-seen Lind are terrific, as is MacDowell, whose transformation from neglected wife to manipulative media mogul is convincing.

"The End of Violence" is rated R for profanity, some vulgar sex talk, brief violent acts, silhouetted nudity and brief partial nudity, and a fleeting sex scene.