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1,275 Ratings

The Yards

Directed by James Gray
United States, 2000
Crime, Drama, Thriller


When he gets out of prison, Leo just wants to get an honest job, so he goes to the subway yards where his connected Uncle Frank now runs the show. But he soon discovers that his uncle has turned the family business into a dangerous world of sabotage, high-stakes payoffs, and murder.

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The Yards Directed by James Gray
James Gray, who grew up in Queens, derived the plot both from things he had heard growing up and from real political scandals of the era. But the emotional fury, deriving from conflicting loyalties, a sense of betrayal, and frustrated romance, is entirely Gray’s own. Every character in the film is sustained by family bonds, and every one of those characters is driven by those bonds to self-destruction.
September 25, 2012
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Like many a great film that was not revered upon release, it’s perhaps easier with hindsight to see how The Yards is very much the cornerstone of Gray’s cinema… You could call it the ultimate Queens film. The film’s setting is surely one of the keys to its grandeur: only in a world so close to Manhattan, yet ever so far, could a movie about warring subway contractors take on the scope and intensity of a Viscontian epic.
December 14, 2011
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Where the film does register is as a study of a family torn apart by betrayal and bad faith. With few shoot-outs or kinetic action scenes, The Yards relies on the subtlety and intensity of the performances, most of which are excellent… Ultimately, The Yards is well enough acted and scripted to bear comparison with the character-driven films of the 70s it strives to emulate.
November 01, 2000
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What are people saying?

  • El Biffo's rating of the film The Yards

    A fine example of American Cinema, with all of its conventions, but without graphic violence or pandering. James Gray's Queens and Brooklyn dramas are a body of work that honor those Boroughs with character and distinction and make the viewer feel as though they were our home, not just his. 4++

  • HKFanatic's rating of the film The Yards

    The opening of "The Yards" feels like what you might call vintage James Gray: hushed voices in a crowded New York apartment lit solely by candle, an ominous air of portent hanging over proceedings. It's atmospheric and gorgeously shot by DP Harris Savides, who would later bring a similar palette to "Birth." But I really feel it's during his next collaboration with Joaquin Phoenix that Gray would come into his own.

  • Jason's rating of the film The Yards

    Though executed w/ some considerable panache (a very smart director in collaboration w/ a phenomenal cinematographer), THE YARDS pretty much at all times reeks of phoniness and pretense. Is that so bad? Not really. We are talking about a kind of Sidney Lumet-style cinema w/ intimations of the operatic. We have presumably not come in search of immaculate verisimilitude. How chill are you w/ self-serious silliness?

  • Loz Loory's rating of the film The Yards

    Just as good as when I saw it in 2000. The tone, the performances, the camera work, the gritty production design, the pared down script. My one issue remains with the tiring depiction of such a rigid patriarchal separation of men and women. Men rule the outside world; women rule the roost; and you can tell an honest man because he dotes on his mother. Amusing record-setting response times of the police to alarms!

  • Zac Weber's rating of the film The Yards

    Despite a great cast, none of the characters evolve in any way over the course of the film. Joaquin is the flippant narcissist, Mark is the unlucky introvert and there were obvious hints at the past relationship between him and Charlize Theron's character almost immediately. The dingy cinematography had a noir-ish tint at times, but I was never really blown away by any particular shot or sequence.

  • Wee Hunk's rating of the film The Yards

    Real life intervenes in our perceptions of these people in the movies. Turns out Marky Mark is not such a nice fellow after all. Once again the white boy walks away clean. The standard joke applies here. This movie has lots of great actors. Oh, and Marky Mark was in the movie too.

  • Jake Cole's rating of the film The Yards

    I've moved in reverse order with Gray's filmography and unless Little Odessa is some kind of aberrant mess, it would seem as if he emerged fully formed as the greatest American modernist since Cimino. The Yards is as operatic a view of American corruption as The Godfather, yet it has a raw humanity in the jaundiced frame that never lets people become mere symbols. Astonishing.

  • Tigrão's rating of the film The Yards

    James Gray achieves a rare thing with "The Yards", in combining classical drama respecting most of the codes and stylistic implications of the crime & mafia genre, and bringing a true new breath by including ambiguous characters and an interesting and unexpected setting (the train industry). Theron is great, and Wahlberg could even convince you that he's not such a bad actor. Always good to see James Caan in form.

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