Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Harry Brown (DVD Review)

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Courtesy of eOne Films

Dir: Daniel Barber - feature film directorial debut
Cast: Michael Caine, Emily Mortimer, Charlie Creed-Miles, Ben Drew, Liam Cunningham, David Bradley, Jack O'Connell
UK, 2010

Reason to see: Michael Caine is always enough to get me interested in seeing a film and the trailer looked interesting

I was all set to write that Harry Brown is set in the gritty, dark world of crime and drug dealing, but it isn't. It's literally about the regular nice man next door to what has become a gritty, dark world, but the fact that he's probably been there long before any of the street punks goes to show exactly the two worlds, or personalities, that collide.

Michael Caine plays Harry Brown, a retired man living on a housing estate (series of apartment building complexes for folks on this side of the pond), an estate that has a combination of retirees, regular folk and a good size of violent and terrorizing young drug dealer and gang types. The film aptly uses this setting to explore themes of crime and violence, but also takes a strong look at futility, emptiness and disinterest from many of the different parties, participates and most interestingly non-participants. It's that lack of interest that makes the film interesting. What are you willing to let slip by, and what aren't you okay with slipping by. If you were to take action, what would you do and how would that go?

It doesn't shy away from the messy and cruel nature these acts can carry, which was refreshingly believeable for a tale of vengeance. Instead of highly stylized crafty fights we get brutality and torment that's uncomfortable and keeps you on edge. Although the violence isn't highly stylized, which is refreshing, but more so it doesn't need to be because the film itself is beautifully shot and accompanied by a fantastic score and soundtrack.

Michael Caine is fantastic in the film, bringing a new and interesting character alive on the screen, showing us someone who is aware of the malicious and uncaring around him. I also really enjoyed Emily Mortimer as D.I. Alice Frampton, likely one of the only characters in the film that didn't buy into the futility of the situation, although I wished she was in it more.

Harry Brown doesn't pull any punches, it's gritty and dark and dangerous. Although it's strongly centred in injustice, it's oddly not really about justice. A bit of a conundrum, but that's one of the things that I liked about it is that is starts grey keeps it pretty grey. Actually, grey with a lot of red from all the blood which would give us Brown. Harry Brown.

DVD Extras:
  • Interviews with Cast and Crew (37 minutes total) - great set of interviews with actors Michael Caine (6 minutes), Emily Mortimer (6 minutes), Liam Cunningham (5 minutes), Ben Drew (7 minutes), Jack O'Connell (5 minutes) and director Daniel Barber (8 minutes), on what drew them to the project, their characters (if applicable), what they hope people take from the film and the films message and realness of the issues the film deals with. I particularly enjoyed the interviews with Liam Cunningham as he discusses the London as a character of the film and vigilante films & the Ben Drew interview - he's one to keep your an eye on, I expect to see a lot more of him in the future.
  • Deleted Scenes - 7 scenes (17 minutes), many are extended scenes and all add interesting layers to the the film.
  • Trailer

Harry Brown is available on DVD as of August 31, 2010. Check it out over at Amazon.ca & Amazon.com

Shannon's Overall View:
I appreciated it
I'll watch it again
I'd recommend it fans of drama based vengeance films

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© Shannon Ridler, 2010
Originally reviewed for Theatrical Release - May 21, 2010

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Michael Caine in Harry Brown. Courtesy of E1 Entertainment

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Charlie Creed-Miles & Emily Mortimer in Harry Brown Courtesy of E1 Entertainment

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