directed by Nicolas Winding Refn
I did it. I finally did it. I mustered the courage to watch Nicolas Winding Refn’s film, Bronson, a crazed biopic about Britain’s most notorious and violent criminal. I did this despite like-minded movie freaks urging me to avoid actually seeing the film, instead just allowing my imagination to fill the blanks that the works of art known as the Bronson trailers left unpainted. Both trailers I reviewed last year are works of art in every sense of the word, even better, in fact, than many of last year’s feature films. “How bad could it be?” I innocently thought. After watching the film on DVD, I immediately made my way to the special features section for answers to my deflated queries. Refn explains his fascination with American indie gangster films of the 40s 50s and 60s, the fragmented stories, the elements of the surreal, and how he wanted to take a script that was interesting, but “not very good,” fix it and make it into something more. In that sense, I see what Refn was trying to achieve but, sadly, he misses his mark. The soundtrack is amazing, and certain sequences are magnificently shot, but Refn’s fragmentation doesn’t mesh in the metaphoric, poetic sense that he intended. Tom Hardy is volatile and revelatory as Charlie Bronson, aka Michael Peterson, whose lust for fame and, well, let’s call it artistic temperament, combust into a violent performance piece about the brutality of one man’s desire for recognition. Anyone looking for a case to make about Tom Hardy’s professional talents need look no further than this one film, for even if he fails at everything else (which isn’t the case, as he rocked in Inception), this one role is more than many actors can hope to achieve in a career. My statement about Bronson being like Andrew Dominik’s Chopper, but with a grandiose, operatic pulse holds true, and the film’s high points (for me) outweigh the low. It is worth watching, but Refn’s ambition gets the better of him.