Two Men in Town, the face-off between two cult stars: Forest Whitaker and Harvey Keitel

In Two Men in Town, French-Algerian director Rachid Bouchareb uses the backdrop of the New Mexico desert landscapes to bring together two huge stars of the American screen: Harvey Keitel (Silver Bear for Smoke, actor in numerous films including The Grand Budapest Hotel, Reservoir Dogs...) and Forest Whitaker (Best Actor Award at Cannes for Bird by Clint Eastwood, Oscar for Best Actor for The Last King of Scotland).

Also featured are British actress Brenda Blethyn, Mexico's Dolores Heredia, Puerto Rico's Luis Guzman and legendary American actress Ellen Burstyn.

A competitor at the 2014 Berlin Film Festival, Two Men in Town portrays the road to redemption trodden by Garnett (Forest Whitaker). After 18 years of being imprisoned in New Mexico following the murder of a local policeman, he has only one idea in his head: to lead a normal life in the outside world. He hopes that his new Muslim faith will help him not only to wash the blood from his hands, but most of all to master the uncontrollable outbursts of rage which even now can well up inside him. His probation officer, Emily Smith (Brenda Blethyn), will support him in his struggle. However, Garnett's past very quickly catches up with him. Sheriff Bill Agati (Harvey Keitel) intends to make him pay for the death of his deputy which occurred 20 years earlier.

Adapted from the well-known film Two Men in Town by French director José Giovanni (1973), which starred Alain Delon and Jean Gabin, Bouchareb's film is above all a description of inner torment, superbly portrayed in Whitaker's performance. It tells the story of a death struggle between the desire to change, represented by his religious conversion, and the terrible demon that dwells within him, his violent rage. It's a battle that is already lost, since it is this same internal enemy that plunges him into the fateful spiral of events.

Rachid Bouchareb's ninth feature-length film, following Days of GloryOutside the Law and London River, features in the Men on the Edge catalogue of Walk This Way. Available for your enjoyment from 22 April via video-on-demand platforms in eight European countries (Spain, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, Austria, the Czech Republic and Hungary).

07 April 2015, by Cineuropa