The Hawk Is Dying

A brooding auto upholsterer (Paul Giamatti), living in central Florida with his divorced sister (an effective Rusty Schwimmer) and plagued with guilt after the death of his autistic nephew (Michael Pitt), becomes obsessed with training, or at least taming, a red-tailed hawk. Giamatti is commanding as ever (without attempting a regional accent anything like Schwimmer’s), and writer-director Julian Goldberger, adapting a novel by Harry Crews, impressed me with his lighting, framing, and minimalistic use of his own music. But these strengths seldom mesh persuasively, and the movie’s southern grotesquerie pales beside something like Monte Hellman’s Cockfighter (1974). With Michelle Williams. 106 min. (JR)

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