Young Mike Sullivan hides in the back of his father’s car one night, to find out what it is he really does. Knowing peripherally that his family ows its living to crime, what he sees forces full realization upon him: his father Michael (Tom Hanks) is a killer. Unfortunately, young Mike is now also a witness to what happened. Connor Rooney, son of the local boss John Rooney (Paul Newman), was the one who loosed the first shot, and he doesn’t trust Mike to keep his mouth shut.
What follows is a powerful tale of father-son relationships, loyalty, and revenge. It’s an astonishingly beautiful film, shot with exquisite care and attention to every last detail of its 1930s setting. But I thought that the sheer precision of its beauty made the characters seem distant. It was almost like a museum piece: meant to be admired, but not touched. I appreciated the emotion of the story, but I didn’t feel it as strongly as I felt I ought to have. But it that’s the film’s biggest flaw, it’s a relatively small failing.