Dir: Nicolas Winding Refn (The Pusher Trilogy, Valhalla Rising)
Cast: Tom Hardy, Matt King
Seen: November 2, 2009 at AMC Yonge & Dundas
Reason to see: I'll see anything by Nicolas Winding Refn
Knowing little about the film upon going in, I admit I was curious as to why this particular subject matter was chosen. What is the inspiration to do a biopic on a man in prison who supplanted his own personality with that of Charles Bronson and has the goal of reaching fame through becoming known for being violent. I'll tell you one thing I wasn't expecting to see - a film heavily influenced by theatre with a strong performative nature. Leave it to Nicolas Winding Refn to surprize us, yet again.
The film has a unique feel right from the get go using straight to the camera monologues is intercut with regular narrative as well as almost dreamlike sequences. This works surprizingly well to capture the bizarre character and journey of the self titled Charlie Bronson. We are seeing what he wants us to see. Hearing the story that he wants to tell us. Sometimes that looks like reality, and other times... not so much. Reality or not, it always hones in on his desire and need for fame. This driving force literally and violently obliterates anything in it's way or perhaps obliterates it so that it can pave the way to becoming famous.
The unusual storytelling style guarantees that it is an memorable viewing experience but the phenomenal performance by Tom Hardy is what escalates it to a compelling and fantastic film. I've only seen his previous work in Star Trek: Nemesis as the character Praetor Shinzon, and it was initially hard to believe I was seeing the same person considering the huge physical transformation. Quite a feat, and once the fists start flying it wasn't hard to see the embodiment and fierceness of the character. A challenging role considering there is not only a huge amount of brutal physicality in the film but also a lot of dialogue that comes straight from him to us, the audience and often in the form of a story. Slightly distant, never apologetic and always bizarre what we hear and see always shows sincerity and utter determination. A paradox of thoughts, ideas and images keep us attentive, curious and waiting for more. Fantastic
Shannon's Overall View:
I enjoyed it
I'd watch it again
I'd recommend it people interested in performative and/or art house film, who can also take the high level of violence
4 minutes of preshow including 1 commercial and 2 previews: The Crazies and The Road
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© Shannon Ridler, 2009