Friday, March 12, 2010

BRONSON (2008) - Nicolas Winding Refn

Some working class young men turn to violence out of desperation, as a way out of their go-nowhere lives and mindless factory jobs. Others just love to bust f%&#ing heads.

Britain's most notorious lifer Charles Bronson (aka Michael Peterson) definitely belongs to the latter category. As he tells us in an extended about-face to the camera, nothing particularly bad happened to him in his childhood. He had nice working class parents, no particular grudges against the government, no real bent for the criminal life. What he is good at is fighting (hence the Bronson moniker taken from Death Wish, though Hard Times might be more appropriate). And prison is where Bronson feels most alive, stripping himself down nude and slathering himself with slippery lotion to take on six guards at once when he's not taking hostages.

Bronson is a magnificently deranged flick, maybe even more loco than its true life protagonist. This is a man who not only gets off on mindless violence but attempts to turn it into a very personal artform within prison walls. How successful he (or the director) is in his mission is a matter of taste. But, for my money, Bronson is the closest thing to the artfully nihilistic glee of A Clockwork Orange we're likely to get this decade and actor Tom Hardy perhaps the closest to "the new DeNiro."

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