…from my trip to Romania and also back to blogging.
I’ve been thinking about Tom Hardy recently.. So, out of my curiosity for the actor, I finally watched an older film in which his main role garnered him a lot of attention for his acting skills:
BRONSON (2008) dir. by Nicolas Refn
A film mostly set in the prisons/asylums that Hardy’s character Mickey Peterson a.k.a. Charlie Bronson is placed in, along with scenes of an imaginary theater in which Bronson narrates the plot, it is a mix of dark surrealism and lighthearted absurdism. It is based on the life of “the most violent prisoner in Britain”, Charlie Bronson, who was put in prison for a petty crime and then continued to serve 40+ years for his behavior behind bars.
Hardy plays his character brilliantly, so that I was gripped with suspense throughout the entire film just to see what Bronson would do or how he would react in a certain situation. You really can’t predict the character at all, and his facial expressions are always shifting and never quite fully read or understood. Hardy portrays Bronson as a unpredictable volcano of emotion and violence; thus, the real beauty in his acting is in those scenes in which he is not fighting, but simply keeping his calm and reacting to the people around him. You begin to expect chaos…
The most unsettling, and provocative, part of the film is that it flirts with the idea of sympathizing with Bronson and accepting his actions as part of an artistic spectacle, all part of his plan to achieve fame. Bronson describes prison as a place where he could hone his skills… of violence and chaos and anarchy. The audience is forced to decide if his psychotic behavior can really be understood or appreciated, especially in the way that Bronson presents it on his imaginary stage.
The only part that was a little confusing or semi-disappointing was that the film portrays Bronson with the primary motivation of fame, although it clearly seemed to me that he just had an anarchic streak that thrived in chaotic violence. It is more interesting/disturbing to watch a character that lives in anarchy for anarchy’s sake, like The Joker in The Dark Knight, but perhaps Bronson’s desperate need for ‘fame’ is complementary to his anarchism…in any case, its compelling to watch.
Its also funny how 70’s/80’s Britpop music is used during Bronson’s fight scenes, thereby bringing that dark-humoured, ironic attitude to the chaos that erupts. This mood also reflects the absurdity of the unexplained characters and events that pop up in Bronson’s life…are they real? or part of his alternate reality that he creates in order to cope with his 28 years of solitary confinement? In any case, its all part of Bronson’s unpredictable, erratic persona that Hardy plays out so well.
& looking forward to:
The Master (2012) dir. Paul Thomas Anderson
Just the fact that PTA is directing this is exciting…he did ‘There Will Be Blood’, ‘Magnolia’, ‘Boogie Nights’. He is also the writer for most of his films, including this one, and I already really like him for his storytelling talent. I’ve actually been keeping an eye on this since last year… haha
Also, the main actors in this are not going to disappoint...JOAQUIN PHOENIX, ANYONE?!
The plot isn’t very clear yet, other than being about a Naval veteran who becomes unsettled and disturbed by a leader, whom he knows, of a charismatic faith group.
Watch the trailer for a taste of PTA’s brilliance & a peek into what Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Joaquin Pheonix are going to bring to this film.
Its coming out on October 12th.
Here’s a little youtube tribute video made by heresjohnny1991 on PTA’s filmography, its a great reminder of his striking visual style and storytelling greatness: