Sunday 27 December 2009

Review: Bronson

Year: 2009
Director: Nicolas Winding Refn
Screenplay: Nicolas Winding Refn, Brock Norman Brock
Starring: Tom Hardy, Matt King, James Lance

Synopsis is here

WARNING: This review has what could be considered slight spoiler in the last paragraph.

For a numerous amount of reasons, Bronson was a very slippery film for me to get to get hold of. So When I finally got hold of a copy I was actually quite pleased with myself, although I'm sure I could have done more in order to get a viewing of it. I'm actually very relived that I managed to see it, a few of my friends have managed to watch it before myself and they made damn sure I knew about it.

With this said will I enjoy the film as much as my friends? When one friend managed to watch the film in a cinema in Oxford (most likely the wonderful Phoenix) he went became absolutely besotted with the movie. And despite have similar tastes (I've never brought a copy of Fight Club because Ive stolen his) it's still very likely that I would have a polarizing view.

I didn't mind Bronson. In fact I found it to be quite charming in it's own chaotic little way. Refn's direction captures an intense and surreal insight into a Man who seems to find fulfillment in anarchy. Not only does he He find passion in hostility but it's hostility at it's most extreme. What makes a character like Bronson so interesting is that while most people would find living on the edge like this as absurd. This man not only thrives on it but make him appear so alive in comparison.

But what I enjoyed the most about Bronson was basing the movie inside the Man's head. When the words "based on a true story" turn up at the beginning of the film, you have to take the film with a pinch of salt. However by having the character of Bronson not only narrating his story but having scenes within a "neutral" performing space in front of an audience not only captures the surreality of Bronson's endeavors but also creates a unreliable telling of the story which, strangely, feels closer to the truth than any straight account of the story could ever do. It's not so much about the events and the reasons behind them, but more about the fact that sometimes life will throw up characters that us "normal" people will never be able to understand. We're not as extreme, so how do I know how they feel?

Playing the titular Bronson is Tom Hardy a young actor whom I had no idea about until I watched Rock n Rolla and saw adverts of Sky One's The Take. Hardy, a man that has battled addiction in his own life has been able to utilize that self-destruction to create an all consuming monster in Bronson. This is a performance that is not only pitched perfectly but also truly unnerving. Much as been said about Hardy's weight gain to play the part, but nothing has been said about the eyes. It's when you watch them watching you, unblinking and unfazed you see where the performance is. At one scene we Bronson wearing the well known rounded sunglasses that he is also known for and even then, a sense of fear is still installed despite not actually seeing those eyes, but merely KNOWING they are behind his shades, watching. It's a wonderful and yet disturbing moment and one that only few young actors could pull off.

Bronson hasn't got the best pacing and the films closing acting, while fun, is a little anticlimactic. But it's as a character study in which Bronson shines hardest. Likened to A Clockwork Orange, the film felt more like Taxi Driver to me. Where as A Clockwork Orange is about free will, here we see a film about rage at its most primal and unpredictable. The films final shot shows a caged, bleeding, wheezing Bronson glaring at the camera almost waiting to be let out. Like shaking a bottle of coke, when opened, it gets messy.