Motion picture of the week.
Having watched this again yesterday, I abandoned my original queued post to make ‘Harry Brown’ the motion picture of the day.
The fantastic debut feature from Oscar-nominated short-director Daniel Barber brings to the screen the darker side of modern Britain, in all its gritty, unsettling realism.
It explores the growing weapon culture in this country on a London council estate- where youths are spearheading criminal activity, bored and violent, they spend their time drug dealing, filming attacks on innocent bystanders and harassing them - and other residents in the estate live in constant fear.
Here we meet Harry Brown, a former Royal Marine, a man of a different generation where young men were respectful and honourable - he lives on the estate and his fear of the criminal activity that takes place in the subway (for you Americans that is just an underground walkway that cuts under busy roads - providing a quicker route) forces him to take a longer route to the hospital where his wife has been staying and as a result tragically misses her final moments.
After his friend Len is killed in the subway by the young gang Harry drowns his sorrows for his double loss and when attacked by a junkie with a knife he can turn a blind eye no more, his old training kicks in and he turns the knife into the young boy’s chest.
The film continues from here, with Brown carrying out the justice that the police have failed to enforce on the gang…raising the suspicions of a new Detective Inspector in the area.
The brilliant thing about this film is its realism, there are no cliche hollywood moments, it is perfectly structured, with consistent quality I would say there are no weak points, it builds up at a steady pace, we are introduced fully to the situation and Barber leads us through the action to a climatic ending with a crafted twist.
The acting in this film is superb, it is the best I have ever seen Michael Caine, Emily Mortimer is terrific as detective inspector Alice Frampton and Ben Drew (known to most as ‘Plan B’ is fantastically nasty as believable scum Noel Winters.
In fact the entire adult and young cast are outstanding, no one is ever presented in a two dimensional light, Barber ensures that we never see good and bad as black and white, messing with our moral compasses - and those of some of our main characters.
It isn’t some kind of run of the mill, ‘old vigilante takes on the youth of today’ film - Brown’s story is well played out, he falls into his role quite unwillingly and his struggle and the struggle between the police and the estate are portrayed with intense authenticity.
The opening scene alone is one of the most shocking things I have ever seen at the cinema, not because it is gory, not because it is x-rated but because it is so uncomfortably realistic, a unique sequence shot so well, something we hear about but don’t quite believe on the news.
In addition, the sound track is fantastic (I always thought the Inception soundtrack sounded similar…) perfectly underscoring the events of the film, nicely eerie and slow-building. The sound in general makes a memorable impact, particularly in our introduction to Harry, accentuating the films gritty visuals and languid environment.
Overall one of the best and most underrated British films I have seen, I look forward to seeing what Barber will do next..
A must watch.
Review: Wild Bill
Bill Hayward (Charlie Creed-Miles) returns from prison to find his two sons have been abandoned by their mother and are struggling to fend for themselves. His intentions of starting a new life without his family are left behind when he has to step up and look after the boys. From the start Bill is an unlikeable character and Charlie Creed-Miles’ performance is a phenomenal achievement as he excels at portraying the transformation of a man on his road to redemption. This character is so strong and honestly written, and along with Creed Miles’ convincing performance, makes up a particularly memorable personality.