Brad Pitt mob movie portrays broken American dream

Tue May 22, 2012 6:52pm EDT
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By Mike Collett-White

CANNES, France (Reuters) - Brad Pitt's latest movie paints a bleak picture of the broken American dream, blending a violent but comic gangster story with overt criticism of politicians' failure to address the economic crisis.

"Killing Them Softly" takes place in an unspecified U.S. city which has borne the brunt of the financial collapse -- houses are abandoned, shops are shuttered and petty criminals and mobsters alike are struggling to get by.

The movie, co-produced by Pitt, is in the main competition at the Cannes film festival this year, and has its red carpet world premiere on Tuesday.

Pitt plays ruthless hitman Jackie Cogan, brought in by a syndicate of mafia bosses to eliminate a group of thieves who raid a high-stakes poker game.

The title derives from his insistence on avoiding unnecessary pain and suffering when he carries out his killings.

It features gangster movie mainstays Ray Liotta and James Gandolfini, and reunites Pitt with New Zealand-born director Andrew Dominik after the two collaborated on "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford".

The political message of the film is unavoidable. News channels play in the background in bars and on the radio in cars, and the topic of debate is invariably the financial crisis, political failure, greed and shattered dreams.

Barack Obama, John McCain and George W. Bush appear on the 2008 campaign trail making promises to address the economy and preserve the ideals on which the country was built.   Continued...

Cast member Brad Pitt attends a photocall for the film "Killing Them Softly", by director Andrew Dominik, in competition at the 65th Cannes Film Festival, May 22, 2012. REUTERS/Yves Herman