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Sundance: 'The Son of No One' premieres, with Katie Holmes mania

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Entertainment Weekly
by John Young
1/29/11


The Sundance Film Festival received a final dose of Tinseltown when Channing Tatum, Ray Liotta, and Katie Holmes arrived Friday for the closing-night premiere of the cop thriller "The Son of No One". Mainly, though, it was all about Katie. When Homes entered the Eccles Theatre via a side door, row after row of festival attendees stood up, yanking out their cameras to ambush the actress with more flashes of light than are present in the opening-credits sequence of Enter the Void. To me, the Sundance crowd has generally presented themselves as sophisticated cineastes, so it was somewhat unexpected to see this audience react with such paparazzi-esque fervor. But, ultimately, no harm done.

"The Son of No One," which was directed by Dito Montiel ("A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints"), received polite but unenthusiastic applause. The film is set in 2002 and follows the quiet Queens police officer Jonathan White (Tatum), whose childhood (and specifically two bloody crimes) comes back to haunt him. Holmes plays White’s wife, while Liotta and Al Pacino portray Capt. Mathers and Det. Stanford, respectively, of the 118th Precinct. When a local newspaper starts publishing anonymous letters regarding the two aforementioned (and still unprosecuted) crimes, Mathers tasks White with getting to the bottom of the increasingly humiliating scandal. And things get, well, messy.

The Q&A started off awkwardly when a Sundance volunteer misidentified Montiel’s first film as Boondock Saints instead of "A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints." But soon the conversation turned toward the standard Q&A fare, including why the cast members were drawn to Montiel’s gritty script. Tatum, who’s now worked with Montiel three times, offered a unique anecdote. “[Montiel] sent me a YouTube video at 3:30 in the morning of a man trapped in an elevator for 48 hours and all the things he did in this elevator,” said the actor. “[Montiel] said, ‘This is Milk [White's childhood nickname], and he’s trapped.’ I feel like everybody understands what it feels like to be trapped at some point in their life.” Tatum then discussed Montiel’s advice for how to handle a character plagued by 16 years of guilt. “He convinced me that the less that I did, the better it would be,” explained Tatum. “I think I had about 15 lines in this entire movie!” (Tatum, for the record, was joking). As for Montiel, the director frequently avoided answering questions with specific details. When asked about the length of the post-production process, Montiel’s first reply was: “It takes forever.”

The picture was filmed mostly in Queens during a 28-day shoot, and Montiel’s editor, Jake Pushinsky, revealed that he used almost every bit of material that was shot. That admission may explain the film’s baffling climax, a rooftop shootout that inexplicably fades to white more times than a season of "Six Feet Under." The sequence, during which the audience was visibly frustrated, was clearly a stylistic choice, although one couldn’t help but feel as though a lack of coverage was also to blame. Here’s to hoping that Montiel takes another look at the scene before the movie’s theatrical release. (The film hasn’t been picked up for distribution yet, but with its all-star cast, it most definitely will).

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