“Glass Chin” is a boxing picture with very little actual boxing. As the title suggests, putting the ex-fighter (Corey Stoll, in a break-out performance) in the ring wouldn’t be a pretty sight.
Bud “The Saint” Gordon used to be somebody, used to be a contender. He had a restaurant, every pro athlete’s dream. Now that’s all gone.
All he has is s dumpy house in Jersey, his native wit, his girl (Marin Ireland), his dog, Silly, and two choices.
Will he go back to Yellow Bird Gym and help his old corner man train an up-and-comer, Kid Sunshine? Or will he tie his fate to the oily loan shark, J.J., played with sexually ambiguous venom by Billy Crudup?
The first thing you notice about this Noah
Buschel film is that it’s made up entirely of boxing movie archetypes, and that none of them talk in the inarticulate “dese-dem-dose” phrases common to movies set in that gritty milieu. Stoll (“The Good Lie”) suggests intelligence, even in the coarse dialogue of a Jersey boxer.
Crudup just revels in making J.J. a ruthless, faintly effeminate operator determined to muscle his way into Manhattan’s chic set — rolling his money into a restaurant and art gallery.
“This is me, marveling,” he says to the boxers. “I marvel at you lads.”
Yul Vazquez (“American Gangster,””Captain Phillips) is perfectly cast as bad news for Bud, Roberto, the “pick up and delivery guy” J.J. wants Bud to accompany on collections. Even Roberto uses words like “trenchant,” not your every day thug speech.
Kelly Lynch is a dishy, high-mileage ex-model bartender J.J. uses to corrupt Bud. David Johansen is one of the debtors they collect from. He remembers Bud. You were “one smart bruiser.”
There aren’t many new wrinkles to the story. But Buschel keeps things bleak as Bud confronts his past and his ever-narrowing present. And Stoll, nicely underplaying a once-big-man straining to get back to where he was, gives us both the tough guy exterior and the glass chin that could be Bud’s undoing.
Cast: Corey Stoll, Billy Crudup, Marin Ireland, Yul Vazquez, Kelly Lynch
Credits: Written and directed by Noah Buschel. An eOne/Phase 4 release.
Running time: 1:28