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Tuesday, 29 September 2009

The Thin White Dude's Reviews - Bronson




Apologies for the delay on my past reviews, but I have reviews for the movie for which this review is the subject and Paul Blart: Mall Cop coming up. Anyway, here is Bronson, a movie has been generating a great amount of it's attention due to it's notoriety, being labelled as a "Clockwork Orange of the 21st Century." And in many respects, I won't deny that that label is rather fitting, despite it being one of those typically cliche things that lazy critics will say about a movie. Story goes that this a biopic based on the life of British prisoner Charles Bronson, who has gained notoriety himself for having spent only four months outside of prison since 1974 and being labelled "the most violent prisoner in Britain." Now, the film is mostly fictional, which I have no problem with, seeing as how fiction can sometimes tell the truth to a story even better than fact, lies or not. That has to be got off the plate, for this is only partially based on the Concrete Coffin autobiography by Charles Bronson, which happens to be one of my favourite books. To start with the good, Tom Hardy gives a superb lead performance as Bronson, in what might well be the best lead performance of the year thus far. Putting on three stone of muscle in a strict training regimin, Hardy certainly looks the part of Bronson, and creates a terrifying and fascinating physical prescence out of Bronson, which perfectly appropriate for the mystery and almost superhuman persona which he has created for himself. Also, he displays the different facets of Bronson's psyche brilliantly. Having read his book, I do know a good bit about Charles Bronson's way of thinking and enigmatic persona. The key to Hardy's performance as Bronson is contrast. He contrasts his outright disgust with himself at times with the grandoise and charming persona he creates of himself justifying his belief with great humour. Also, he contrasts the violent and brutal phsyicality of Bronson with a delicately, if slightly subversive beauty to be found in his drawings. Hardy really does, use a cliche, become Charles Bronson. Also, the film's use of soundtrack is rather interesting, juxtaposing what is happening onscreen, often in the ironic sense, with some piece of music which in a strange way, because of the strength of it's ironic use, makes sense. Also, the cinematography is solid, shot well in digital video for a very low budget of £150,000. Despite an obvious lack of financial buck to sit back on, the cinematographers don't shy away from making the most out of it, capturing some genuinely great images onscreen at certain points. Finally, the film is very daring and brave, perhaps even groundbreaking to a certain extent with it's rather unflinching portrayal of violence and the brutality of prison life, but not without it's humour. The film shows extended scenes of intense violence throughout, but it's real brutality is the torment and destitude of a life which Charles Bronson is forced to live. While Bronson is certainly a very good movie, it is certainly not without it's flaws at that. The big flaw, which spreads off like a virus and contaminates numerous aspects of the production, is the fact that the film is completely over-stylised. Now, I mentioned the unflinching nature of the film, which is a style in itself, but the film attempts really to stick it's hand in every sweety jar of cool styles in order to play all their cards. Instead of what I feel should have been done, and focusing on the brutality with spurious uses of black humour, the film on numerous occassions deviates from material whenever it starts to get interesting, particularly with regards to exploring the more serious nature of Bronson's psyche. While the onstage Bronson narrating his own story is well-played by Hardy, it is a completely misjudged and inappropriate for the project concept which does nothing but make the film seem like some kind of music video on MTV. Things like this and the animation sequence are silly and pointless in my opinion, inappropriate to the film because there are so many different styles. The writing is frantic and deranged, like the mind of Bronson. Granted, maybe that's what they were trying to reflect, but surely they could have pulled that across better rather than having a bunch of bits mashed together. Clearly director Nicolas Winding Refn is having problems in controlling the beast that is his movie about Charley Bronson, and not that of the real beast himself. However, the film is certainly not without it's pros. It is, even with these annoyances, as an oddity, a very good film, with a behemoth of a performance by Tom Hardy that swallows up the entire film.

The Thin White Dude's Prognosis - 7.8/10
The Thin White Dude's Self-Diagnosis - Mesmerised by Hardy's performance

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