I’ve kept an eye on the careers of both Thomasin McKenzie and Anya Taylor-Joy in recent years, both having impressed in ‘Jo Jo Rabbit’ and Netflix show ‘The Queens Gambit’ respectively. So when I heard that the latest from director Edgar Wright starred both of these talents, I was certainly appealed. McKenzie plays Eloise, an aspiring fashion designer who moves to London. There she finds her love for the sixties era come to life when she experiences visions that follow the escapades of a young wannabe singer named Sandy (Taylor-Joy). Somehow the two girls lives become entwined as the glitz and glamour take a sinister turn.
Edgar Wright has always been one of the more inventive and stylish directors, first coming to fame with zombie-rom-com Shaun of the Dead, and that creativity is on fine form here, inventively jumping back and forth from past to present, whilst bringing to life sixties London with a top notch soundtrack. Both lead actresses deliver great performances but this is especially a showcase for McKenzie who carries the movie in a demanding yet effective turn.
This just held my internet throughout. For what on paper is a sort of horror thriller, this wasn’t as scary as it might have intended but was still a joy to watch and get mesmerised by the atmosphere, the twisty-turny plot and visuals. Is it Wright’s best movie to date? Possibly, and also proves a great showcase for two of the most watchable and talented young actresses currently working. A must see.
I loved the 1990 British biopic of The Krays starring former Spandau Ballet brothers Gary & Martin Kemp which for me had long been one of the best gangster movies I had seen. However I haven’t seen that rendition in a long time so the prospect of a new adaptation of the famed East End mobsters’ story was exciting. Also the fact current hot property Tom Hardy (Mad Max Fury Road) was taking on the roles of both Ronnie & Reggie Kray meant this couldn’t fail … or could it?
Set during the height of the gangster’s reign over the criminal underworld in the 1960s, Reggie and his rather unstable brother Ronnie have London eating out of their hands; rubbing shoulders with celebrities, owning nightclubs and about to go into business with the Italian Mafia. Told primarily from the perspective of Reggie’s wife Francis (Emily Browning – who somehow still has a career after the god-awful Sleeping Beauty) this promises to be another mob classic to stand alongside movies such as Goodfellas. Yet in the hands of director Brian Helgeland (A Knight’s Tale), we get anything but that. His direction is plodding despite decent production value and eye-catching photography, but for a mob movie there is a total lack of menace. I didn’t feel like these people were all that intimidating or scary, and in a decent gangster yarn, I’m usually always a bit nervy of something kicking off any second. This is not helped by the focus on Reggie & Francis’ relationship where the casting of the porcelain pretty Emily Browning once again proves her as one of the most uninteresting actresses currently working, not helped by her snore-inducing narration. This needed much more of the criminal lifestyle and the enforcing of that lifestyle … yet mob hits come out of nowhere, and famous murders just happen with no build up. Trying his damndest is Tom Hardy but although charismatic as Reggie, his apparent control and intimidation of Francis is bizarrely glossed over, making a certain turn of events later on come out of nowhere. On the flip side his portrayal of Ronnie is borderline farcical, the legendary gangland mobster reduced to an absurd caricature rather than particularly threatening (the trumpet blowing scene almost had me giggling in embarrassment).
So the tone and pacing and everything other than the look was totally off, and important characters to the Kray’s story such as their mother or infamous names like Jack ‘the hat’ McVittie are little more than ‘just there’ when their inclusion could have helped with the movie’s authenticity (which has to be said, it takes liberties with). The Krays were fascinating and pretty scary in real life by all accounts – but this interpretation failed to capture hardly any of what made them famous or ironically, legends.
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