Autumn is upon us if the sere, severe, serious likes of “The Assassination of Jesse James by The Coward Robert Ford” and James Gray’s brutal, assured third feature, “We Own The Night” are filling American screens. In his earlier features, “Little Odessa” (1994) and “The Yards” (2000), the 38-year-old demonstrated his affinity for the grand canvas upon which an intricately orchestrated tale is told. Gray regulars Joaquin Phoenix and Mark Wahlberg play Bobby Green And Joseph Grusinsky, brothers in 1988 New York. The city’s gone to wrack and ruin and Russian mobsters import drugs with impunity. Bobby, who’s changed his name, has hidden his legacy as part of a family of New York policemen, runs a Russian-owned Brooklyn nightclub, loves his girlfriend Amada (Eva Mendes). Joseph’s promoted to heading a narcotics strike force, which leads to his brother’s club and to operatic levels of retribution against his family, including his father, a career department big played by Robert Duvall, by mobsters led by the memorable Vadim Nezhinski as a soft-spoken dagger of danger. “We Own The Night” is grandly suggestive, with a two-brothers-and-a-father component worthy of Visconti’s “Rocco and His Brothers,” a Shakespearean portrait of a father in his age and, of course, the mark of Cain writ large. There’s a car chase in the rain worthy of comparisons to “The French Connection,” and the elegance of the filmmaking, in story construction, design and accruing emotional impact, is deeply impressive. Wojciech Kilar’s score is mournful throughout, balancing the 1988-era pop songs. 116m. Anamorphic 2.40 widescreen. <i>(Ray Pride)
“We Own the Night” opens Friday.