***/**** Image A Sound A Extras C-
starring Liam Neeson, Dan Stevens, David Harbour, Boyd Holbrook
screenplay by Scott Frank, based on the novel by Lawrence Block
directed by Scott Frank
by Bryant Frazer First, let's be clear about what kind of movie A Walk Among the Tombstones is. The film's signature image is that of a blonde woman, nude or nearly nude, atop a white bed. A man caresses her slowly, runs his fingers through her hair, and nuzzles her face. If we watch closely, we eventually notice that she cringes at his touch. As new camera angles afford us a better look at the tableau, we notice the bed is covered in plastic. Two men are watching the woman. And her mouth is taped closed. The newly-disturbing scene is photographed with a luxe aesthetic--soft light, lush bokeh, off-axis shot compositions--that suggests a commercial for pharmaceuticals, if not early-'90s Playboy Channel programming. The intended irony is clear enough, but the coyness makes the scene ugly. After a close-up on the woman's dirty feet, the camera cuts to a view of her face, looking directly into the camera, as her body is being pushed at, rhythmically, from just outside the frame. The question, then, is whether she's being raped, dismembered, or eviscerated.