Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Bronson (2009)


Career criminal Charles Bronson (Tom Hardy) dreams of one day becoming famous. How he decides to go about this, by being the most insane and violent man in prison.

As a movie I'm not quite sure what to make of Bronson. Hardy gives a tour de force performance, well worth some recognition come awards time, but the movie always just feels like it's not sure where to go. Narratively speaking, Bronson is told entirely from the perspective of Bronson as he fantasize's performing his life on stage for an audience who cheers him on. These scenes range from straight forward audience discussion to old school antics and Charlie Chaplin style stage performances. These interludes occur in order to speed up the narrative as it seems to jump from one event to the next. My only problem is I can't quite figure out what to make of why they choose the life events they choose.

There's inarguably lots of acting talent here, yet Refn opts for style and grotesque violence, & fights that last a minute instead of anything with subtext. For an action film that's fine, but Bronson seeks to be a character film. Refn wavers back and forth between moments of real character study, random moments that'll make you laugh and be horrified at the same time. Perhaps the movie is trying to be a caricature of Bronson himself. It seeks to humanize him, but not sympathize him, it tries to analyze him, but not go in depth into what defines him. The movie makes light of some of the weirder parts of Bronson, his desire to fight nude (it happens quite a few times), his odd sense of humor and antics, and in that respect the movie manages to go carry through.

In fact, entertainment is the least of this films problems. The style and the writing are heavily built towards entertainment, and as such most audiences will find the film's short run time to glide by with the greatest of ease. That's not to say it's all good, or a highly entertaining film, because Bronson is not really a likable character. He's off the wall, over the top, and horribly violent, and the movie matches such a character. As a movie I'm not really sure if I enjoyed it, respected it, or just sort of mix matched the two.

While a obviously flawed movie, Bronson gets by with solid entertainment value and a great performance by Tom Hardy.

1 better thoughts:

Rae Kasey said...

The film itself didn't do wonders for me, but I was floored constantly by Tom Hardy's performance. It truly is a powerhouse turn that should knock the socks off anyone who sees it.

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