Director James Gray has elicited some marvelous performances from a really eclectic cast: Oscar winners Ellen Burstyn and Faye Dunaway play domestic characters with the professional verve they always bring; Oscar nominees Charlize Theron, James Caan and Joaquin Phoenix are superb in their roles as Wahlberg's cousin, best friend and uncle-in-law; and then we have Mark Wahlberg, Steve Lawrence and Tony Musante rounding out the cast. This is Wahlberg's shining moment; he has none of the macho bravado usually associated with him, and his performance is complex, multi-faceted and courageous. Caan is also brilliant, and someday he'll get the Oscar he deserves. Phoenix also shows great emotional depth in his role as a borderline sociopath. Theron proves that she is not just a pretty face, but a capable and engaging actress. The film's slow pace is in line with the psychological nuances of the film. I'd never heard of it until I saw a trailer on another video. An outstanding film. Highly recommended.