Ralph and Holly face el Cuco
Ralph, Holly, and the others scramble to figure out what to do next as the fake Claude continues its hunt.
Holly knows that Claude is the next on el Cuco's list, and so they have to protect him.
Holly's stuck on a car ride with Jack, as Ralph and Alec start to worry for her safety.
A little boy is murdered, and a well-known, respected local coach is accused of the crime.
After Grace's death, Tommy must figure out how to move on, with his personal life, and with business.
BBC Two’s Peaky Blinders
Season 3, Episode 2
Directed by Tim Mielants
Written by Steven Knight
* For a review of Episode 1, click here.
* For a review of Episode 3, click here.
After a whopper of a premiere, Season 3 keeps on ramblin’. Tommy Shelby (Cillian Murphy) is out taking meetings. He’s talking with Connor Nutley (Ralph Ineson) about a little business. He needs some keys, evidently to some storage. But you know it’s more than for a place to store a few things. Either way, it appears Nutley is reluctant to take money from a Shelby, Tommy specifically. He takes it, though.
And a little later, he ends up speaking to Father John Hughes (Paddy Considine), as the two sit and have a smoke. They talk of choosing sides, so on. And without a whole lot of effort, Considine makes Father Hughes and his talk of “little creatures” into an eerie sort of chap. I’m a fan of his for a long time now, but this is immediately an effective performance. Interested to see where this relationship goes from here. Hughes is a crooked priest with irons in the criminal fire, so there’s no doubt a further end to having a great actor like Considine playing the part. The tension between Hughes and Tommy is excellent, too.
Now I’m blown away. Because an excellent actor I didn’t realize was part of this season shows up – Jan Bijvoet, as Grand Duke Leon Petrovna. This character is also quickly intriguing. Seems things aren’t as lively in terms of social engagements and business asthe Duke had hoped. He’ll be an interesting addition to the cast, as well.
Arthur Shelby (Paul Anderson) and brother John (Joe Cole) are sitting for a meeting of their own. However, not everybody’s too happy living under the rule of Shelbys like Arthur and John. As much as Tommy can get psycho when needed, Arthur and John are most certainly a little less subtle, and perhaps a little less respectful, than their brother. Vicente Changretta (Kenneth Colley) ends up literally spitting at them, making clear they’ve gone too far this time. Nice tense scene that’s sure to bring about a little trouble.
I’m always interested in what Aunt Polly (Helen McCrory) is up to. Because as greasy as she can be like any of them, Polly doesn’t get enough credit. They often walk all over here. But then again, none of them are saints, so what does it matter? Regardless, she doesn’t back down, and always gets her two cents in. Despite getting ignored or flat out mistreated, Polly manages a degree of strength in her male Shelby dominated world. Except right now all she manages to do is rile up her son John over Lizzie and her messed up situation.
Meanwhile, Tommy is making sure he’s on the special list at a swanky hotel. He’s dining and chatting with the Grand Duke Petrovna, who for his part is a bit of a disgusting man eating and drinking and talking in unison. Petrovna makes a bit of a dirty remark about Russian women v. English women, one which doesn’t appear to strike Tommy as very funny. But they get on talking. The conversation has its… ups and downs, including the Grand Duke crushing a glass in his hand, so obviously stressed yet completely composed at once. Another really impressive scene, both in writing and in the execution of the actors. Of course we find out more about what happened in the first episode of the season, re: the killing of the supposed Russian. Now, there’s further business ahead for the Russians and Shelbys. Serious business at that.
And John, he’s busy kicking the shit out of people. That’s one thing that constantly drives the fear of the Shelbys is that they’re very up close and personal fighters. Yes, they use weapons, guns sometimes. But they’re mostly brawlers. This is part of why many fear them. They don’t have to resort to guns in the night, or at least not all the time. These are blokes that’ll take you on, head to head.
When the Shelby brothers come together, along with Aunt Pol, there’s problems over John’s actions. He listened to nobody, and now there’s hell to pay. All the same, Tommy will have nothing but solidarity. It’s his way, or the fucking highway.
The Grand Duke sees his Grand Duchess Izabella (Dina Korzun). This reveals the fact they’ve likely got sinister intentions within their dealing with the Shelbys. She says it’s possible he may have to kill Tommy, with his own hand. Something the Duke is apparently ready for, one way or another. But is he? Without the possibility of death, any show’s characters become stagnant. So while Tommy is strong, all powerful with a wide reach, there is always a possible murder lurking around the corner, an assassination close behind or being brewed in the dark corners of Birmingham, maybe even further than that. Yet what I know for sure is there’s a nice showdown coming for the Petrovna and Tommy.
At the same time, Tommy is giving his wife Grace (Annabelle Wallis) the sapphire Petrovna gifted him for the murder of the Russian (spy) from last episode. And he’s got so much to worry about now with a wife, the child, it’s more to be used against him. Aside from that there’s Arthur trying to fight his demons, aided by his overbearing wife Linda (Kate Phillips). It’s only a matter of time before something in the Shelby clan breaks, snapping like a twig. Violently, I would imagine.
More Radiohead in this episode with “I Might Be Wrong”, a personal favourite of mine out of their catalogue. We see Arthur out on “business” as he tells his wife. But really it’s shit kicking time. So put on your shit kickers. Although, give it to Arthur: he goes home like he said he would. Even if his brother isn’t happy.
Tommy gets scooped up by the coppers. Then up shows creepy Father Hughes with an equally unsettling dog to see Mr. Shelby in his cell. The priest brings news about having Scotland Yard in their pocket. Veiled and open threats at once. Except Tommy is a hard bastard. A fighter to the bone. The two stand toe to toe, might as well be butting heads. Still, there’s a scary element to Father Hughes: “We can reach anyone. Anywhere.” And this puts a proper spook into Tommy, who rushes home to find a further threat. Proving that Hughes and his people really can get to anybody. A highly unsettling moment. Both in its own right, as well as for the fact Tommy is such a powerful man and someone can still go above and beyond his grasp.
As things go on of which she has no idea, Polly is ready to be painted soon by Ruben Oliver (Alexander Siddig). These two are fast becoming a little romantic. Wonder how far that will go, or what more trouble that might get Aunt Pol into with her boys. Because you know there’s only so far happiness goes for her. Mostly it’s a bleak and dreary ride through life for her among the Shelby clan. “A woman of substance and class,” she repeats to herself in the mirror before a party, the words Oliver had said about her earlier.
And at the party, Tommy’s not pleased to see Father Hughes, along with MP Patrick Jarvis (Alex Macqueen). In the dark behind closed doors, the three meet, and Tommy smokes his way through another tense encounter. They discuss an upcoming job, a bit of business. And Tommy really has no time for anybody else’s shit. The MP and the priest have their own ideas about how things will go. Even with the force of their power against him, Tommy will not lie down and take it for anyone.
Tommy: “You know gentlemen there is hell, and there is another place below hell. I will remember everything, and forgive nothing.”
Tommy doesn’t want to bring Princess Tatiana Petrovna (Gaite Jansen) through for a factory tour while the place is being watched. Also, Princess Tatiana is a bit of a bitch. She even goes so far as to play on the whole gypsy angle, saying the sapphire from the Grand Duke has been cursed by one. So Tommy rushes to his wife, asking her to take the thing off.
But it’s too late. A man barges in through the crowd and takes a shot at the happy couple, hitting Grace right in the chest above her heart. As Tommy holds his bleeding wife, the other Shelbys beat the shooter, likely to death.
What a finish! Christ. I am sweating. Looking forward to the next episode, which will undoubtedly bring a ton of exciting developments. Much trouble on the way between the Irish and the Russians. Plus, plenty more amazing cinematography, acting, and lots of fun music. Stay tuned with me.
Macbeth. 2015. Directed by Justin Kurzel. Screenplay by Jacob Koskoff, Michael Lesslie & Todd Louiso; based on the original play by William Shakespeare.
Starring Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Paddy Considine, Lochlann Harris, Lynn Kennedy, Seylan Baxter, Brian Nickels, Hilton McRae, James Harkness, Ross Anderson, David Thewlis, Sean Harris and Elizabeth Debicki.
See-Saw Films/DMC Film/ACE/Film 4/Creative Scotland/Studio Canal.
Rated 14A. 113 minutes.
You either love Shakespeare, or you haven’t got any time for him. That’s just the way it goes. I’ve never met anyone who says “Oh yeah I read a bit now and then”. You read Shakespeare plenty or don’t give a shit. Honestly. He’s one of those acquired tastes. I’ve always enjoyed his work because of the death, the mystery, intrigue, all the murder and deceit and disguises. Shakespeare wrote such wild and exotic stuff, it’s just hard to crack through some of his dialogue if you don’t study it. And that’s why I think you either love him or hate him. Bottom line.
Justin Kurzel came on with an amazing debut, Snowtown, which is based on the real serial killings of Australian murderer John Bunting. That was one macabre yet compelling films. It almost dulled the violence and atrocity to a point where, by the end, you’ve nearly become bored by it. Yet somehow the story, the people involved and those caught up in Bunting’s whirlwind of murderous impulse, it all keeps you interested. So here in Macbeth, there’s a certain aspect of the titular character which parallels that whirlwind feeling. Not in the same way. But the play is of course called Macbeth. We can’t forget about Lady Macbeth, whose power is almost without rival, as well. It’s the attention paid to the characters themselves, which Kurzel did so well in Snowtown, that makes this Shakespearean adaptation thrilling and worthy of respect. The look and feel of the entire film is amazing, the acting even better. But best of all is the resonance Shakespeare’s words still have today, on film, and how Kurzel manages to give us a wonderful take on the source material with a simultaneously beautiful and grimly captured vision of that fearsome Scottish play, so they say in the theatre.
Macbeth (Michael Fassbender), Thane of Glamis, receives a prophecy from a trio of witches, which tells him one day he will become the King of Scotland. Succumbing to his deadly ambition, his own manifest destiny, and driven to action by his equally power hungry wife Lady MacBeth (Marion Cotillard), he murders the current King, Duncan (David Thewlis).
However, after the deed is done Macbeth becomes wracked with paranoia, guilt, fear. He slowly starts to unravel, right from the beginning. Likewise, Lady Macbeth finds herself similarly plagued as her husband. Their murderous, power mad impulses don’t stop there. Later on, she takes to sleepwalking, a living effect of her and her husband’s crimes. Their lives become that of a King and Queen, but their climb to the throne is marred with blood and stained with betrayal.
The atmosphere of the film all around is incredibly well crafted. Immediately the battle scenes take you into a world torn by war. Those sequences are wrapped in fog, slow motion moments which wrap you up inside them before moving to a different, exciting shot. Another aspect of this film I loved: the editing. Specifically I thought the way they did the coronation scene was perfect. Macbeth switches back and forth between observing the people chanting for him and the night where he stabbed King Duncan to a bloody death in his bed; on top of that, Fassbender looks almost sickly already with paranoid guilt, which makes things all the more powerful. There are a ton of instances where editing provides us with that kind of impact. Editor Chris Dickens has done a few solid movies like Slumdog Millionaire, Hot Fuzz, Shaun of the Dead, but I would say this is absolutely his best work to date.
Then there’s the combination of an epic score from composer Jed Kurzel, whose best work is found in Snowtown and Dead Europe, along with gorgeously captured cinematography by Adam Arkapaw who has done impressive things on True Detective, Top of the Lake, Lore, Snowtown and Animal Kingdom. I love how the cinematography captures both the exteriors so vividly and in a sort of morbid light, then all the interiors are in the depths of the darkness, only lit up rarely. Films always impress me when they seek a shadowy look and tone while also keeping that quality throughout, not just in the literally shadowy scenes. It isn’t easy, but Arkapaw has a talent for that quality.
These two elements together, beautifully composed shots with a grim tone and a score that goes from an ominous lull to a crashing roar, fuse into what becomes a shadowy nightmare of paranoia, guilty thoughts, and plenty of brutality. These are masters at work. Jed Kurzel’s music haunts us in certain scenes; always lurking, sometimes crashing down on our heads and ripping us from our moorings. The visuals Arkapaw help Justin Kurzel direct us through a heavy, brooding adaptation of Shakespeare.
Macbeth: “I am in blood, stepped in so far.”
I read a review recently that said Michael Fassbender was boring as Macbeth. Serious? The frailty, the fragile nature of the character which he brought forward is stunning. In similar fashion, Marion Cotillard also conveys the madness of Lady Macbeth so well. They’re each fitted for the role. I don’t see how Fassbender was boring, nor can I see anybody complaining about Cotillard. For his part, Macbeth comes across as violent, ruthless and full of mixed emotions, but he is essentially a puppet. Not saying Lady Macbeth is the root of all the problems, she didn’t literally make him kill Duncan. But Macbeth is not the strongest one. Lady Macbeth is. She has all the ambition, it simply has to flow through Macbeth himself. They’re both fragile, but Fassbender brings out the weakness of Macbeth strong and evident, which allows us to see the power of Lady Macbeth, relegated to the title of his wife. She is the one in charge, because she has to be. Macbeth is almost a statement on these war weary souls who live only to fight, to become King, to rule with power; they’re all fuelled by their ambition, but through a stronger outlet. Often, it is their significant other. For Macbeth, it is the Lady Macbeth who fuels his quest to power. They both do themselves in, she only started things out with their private talks. She feels the guilt just as much. If not more. Fassbender and Cotillard bring to live to well-worn stage characters, transforming them into dreadful, amazing film characters.
For me, a flawless adaptation of Shakespeare. It doesn’t have to have everything the original had because this is version of that Scottish play. But this 5-star film has Justin Kurzel directing the hell out every last frame, giving us a view into the paranoia and guilt of both Macbeth and Lady Macbeth with intensity, savagery at times. The entire film is a haunted portrait of madness. Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard are both engaging, as well as powerful in their own respect. And there’s also Paddy Considine of whom I’m a big fan, he brought his talent to the table here in an unsettling way.
Old scenes are given brand new life in this retelling of William Shakespeare’s (arguably) most famous work. The atmosphere and mood of the entire piece is so thick, so rich you could cut it through with a knife. Absolutely a Shakespearean adaptation worth seeing. Can’t wait to snatch this up on Blu ray.
Tyrannosaur. 2011. Directed & Written by Paddy Considine.
Starring Peter Mullan, Olivia Colman, Eddie Marsan, Paul Popplewell, Samuel Bottomley, Sian Breckin, Ned Dennehy, Sally Carman, Julia Mallam and Natalia Carta.
Warp X/Inflammable Films/Film4/UK Film Council/Screen Yorkshire/EM Media/Optimum Releasing.
Not Rated. 92 minutes.
Paddy Considine is a great artist, in terms of writing and directing. He proves it here, fully. I already enjoyed his talents as an actor. However, the promise he shows in the dual role of writer-director with Tyrannosaur is astounding. Because it’s a grounded, raw and real piece of work. There’s no doubt. Every inch of this film speaks to the core of the lower middle class, hell, anyone who isn’t on the bourgeoisie scale. This movie is about the common man, its heart is in the common people. Considine writes as if he knows each of these characters, from Peter Mullan’s agonisingly truthful/equally painful Joseph to Hannah and her heartbreaking faith in the face of all hardship played perfectly by Olivia Colman. While there is truly a ton to love about Considine’s debut feature (his first work as director was the short film which turned into this: Dog Altogether), the best of everything is the fact that, among an industry almost obsessed with keeping to fads and follow along with trends, this movie touches on real issues and struggles, shockingly true to life situations and all the horrifically honest bits of life people often don’t want to acknowledge exist. At times this is a film you may want to look away from, even if its little speckles of violence aren’t explicit and graphically shown. But trust me, it’s worth the effort to get through because Tyrannosaur has a message beneath it all.
A career alcoholic and a man with constant burning rage in his heart, Joseph (Peter Mullan) has only acquaintances. His one friend, his dog, gets beaten to death one night. By his own hand. After this event, Joseph goes down the bottle even further. Between fighting people at his favourite hole in the wall bar to arguing with an idiot neighbour, something always seems to be following Joseph, to be eating him alive. After taking refuge in a store, he meets Hannah (Olivia Colman) and they form a nice yet tenuous bond. She has her own problems. At home, Hannah’s husband James (Eddie Marsan), a fairly bad drunk himself , abuses her; he urinates on her after she won’t wake up when he’s home from the pub, he later beats her up. When the lives of Hannah and Joseph intersect more intensely, things begin to change for both of them. Although, for one of the two it may not turn out as perfectly as they had imagined. And soon an act transpires which can’t be changed.
On top of the raw, gritty realism of Considine’s writing, his directorial style plays just as well to the story and its themes. There is nothing fancy about the way he presents his subject. In fact, that’s what works. I find there’s a tendency for films with tough subject to often lean into trying too hard for an aesthetic which matches it, in terms of it becoming fabricated. Whereas there are films like this one and something like Nicolas Winding Refn’s Pusher trilogy which use a very simple look, and it suits the raw feeling of the plot and story. Mostly, Considine puts us directly with both Joseph and Hannah. He finds a way to simply let the viewer watch these characters, as well as sit right in on their situation alongside them. We get great looks at the landscape around these characters, such as the lower class housing where Joseph lives and the little pubs and all that. At the same time, we’re closed in with good tight frames on the faces of Joseph and Hannah respectively. We’re as close to in their heads as possible, sort of floating along in their life. Not to say Considine doesn’t do anything interesting. He does. But it’s the way he does it so simply which makes it work flawless, it is understated film making; less is more, in a wonderfully bleak way.
Adding to the realism of the way in which Considine writes and presents his subject/themes, the two big central performances of Tyrannosaur are towering as the beast from which it takes its name.
Peter Mullan is an actor I’ve always loved. The first time I actually took notice of him personally was Trainspotting and then Session 9, but after that I went back and found all sorts of amazing performances. Here, he spreads his wings and flies. It’s utterly amazing. And crazy enough, from the first moments we see the character Joseph when he kicks his beloved dog to death, there’s somehow part of us wanting to connect. Even after seeing such a devastating and senseless, heartless act, there was something in Joseph I couldn’t shake. It’s a repulsive act to begin a film, but that’s part of the redemptive process. Mullan takes us through all the motions with Joseph, working from a despicable moment in time to the finale where surprisingly he makes it through, somehow. Part of why Joseph is able to hold onto us, or me anyways as a viewer, is because of the way Mullan plays him. There are sensitive scenes where Joseph actually appears naked and raw to us with his inner self, a man who wants to be someone else other than what he’s become. Those scenes are juxtaposed with the raging animal inside him, clawing to get out; and sometimes, it does. Mullan was and is the only man to play Joseph. Can’t see him as anyone else. The intensity of this character comes off perfect with Mullan in the role, as does the inner struggle without Considine having to write in a ton of expository back story.
No way can Olivia Colman be left out of the acting conversation. The role of Hannah is not an easy one, nor is it an uncommon life; sadly too many women suffer in disgusting relationships such as the one she and her husband have together. Colman brings a humanity to the role. Many female characters who are abuse/rape victims, such as Hannah, seem to get written wildly one-dimensional. With Hannah, Considine gives us a woman who is religious and at the same time is confronting all these things – alcoholism, physical and mental abuse, rape, et cetera – which directly contradict the heart of true religion. Colman shows us the core of a woman whose faith is holding on so hard to her heart and her mind, yet at the same time she is a woman who can only take so much. At times, I teared up, all due to Colman and her performance. It’s an excellent pairing with the powerhouse abilities of Mullan on display.
Tyrannosaur is a 5-star film. All the way. I love every last second of it, even if it is a grim watch at most points. Paddy Considine proves his worth as a writer-director. He knows how to present the grittiness of real life in a welcomed perspective. While there is an over abundance of the mental and physical violence inherent in many lives around the world, Considine also brings us into a space where redemption is possible. On one hand, the character of Joseph begins driving towards oblivion head-on and even Hannah gets caught up in this whirlwind of rage. On the other hand, both of these characters show us that, no matter what, in the end redemption can be possible. Even someone like Joseph, whose first scenes would have most people believing it would never happen. Maybe it never does, fully. But the faith in humanity, not that of religion, is what triumphs. Underneath the rough exterior, Tyrannosaur has a clear and true heart filled with the dreams of possibility.
An atypical film about revenge from Shane Meadows, examining grief, retribution, and how to live after a tragedy.
BackWoods. 2006. Dir. Koldo Serra. Screenplay by Serra & Jon Sagalá.
Starring Gary Oldman, Virginie Ledoyen, Paddy Considine, Aitana Sánchez-Gijón, Jon Ariño, Lluís Homar, and Kandido Uranga. Lionsgate.
Rated 14A. 97 minutes.
★1/2 (DVD release)
This is one of those films I may never have heard of, if only maybe for a late night search spree on lesser known Gary Oldman flicks, except for the fact I stumbled across it in a $5 bin at a local rental place a few years back; in fact, the disc still has the store’s sticker on it to this day. I saw it, realised that not only was Oldman in it but also Paddy Considine of whom I’m a really big fan, and snatched it up quickly. Turns out it wasn’t just a decent little snag for five bucks. It’s a quality movie. An old school backwoods style thriller. There are times it not only feels set in the 1970s, I truly felt a lot of moments could’ve almost been filmed back then, as well. There’s certainly moments of homage towards both John Boorman’s classic Deliverance, as well as Sam Peckinpah’s 1971 dramatic revenge thriller Straw Dogs. Mainly there’s just a really great nostalgic feel about the story and the setting, which comes across quite well.
BackWoods sees two couples, Paul (Oldman) and Isabel (Sánchez-Gijón), as well as Norman (Considine) and Lucy (Ledoyen), venturing into the Spanish back country. Paul and Isabel now live in the Basque region after they married. Norman, and his young wife Isabel, are heading to visit. An idyllic vacation in the forest turns to a nightmarish situation when Paul and Norman stumble across a deformed little girl who has been locked up in a small shed-like structure, pad locked and hidden away. They bring her back to Paul and Isabel’s home in the woods. But not long after, local men from the village show up looking for the girl, and all is not as it seems in the quaint little pocket of Spain. Paul and Norman find themselves facing a desperate and brutal situation, fighting for their lives, as well as those of their wives.
This goes down some of the same roads we see in Peckinpah’s Straw Dogs. Specifically, the character of Norman is really pushed to his limits here. Initially even the sight of a rabbit being killed by Paul is shocking to him; there’s a lingering shot of Considine looking fairly troubled by watching the rabbit die. However, Paul tells his friend something which resonates through the whole film – “there are hunters and prey, Norman… it‘s the only fucking truth in this world.” While Paul understands the human nature of hunter and prey, Norman doesn’t quite get it. His rude awakening comes later in the film when the men coming to look for the deformed girl appear to be more ruthless than he could have ever imagined. It’s a really great way to introduce these themes, all starting with just a tiny little rabbit. Nice touch.
I really enjoy how this film stayed mostly as a dramatic thriller. It had a few little elements of horror (the backwoods ‘battle’ between city folk & villagers + the deformed girl locked away in the woods/ et cetera), but it didn’t stray into full on terror or anything. This works really nicely as a 1970s style thriller. It’s also particularly performance driven, as opposed to plot. While the plot is deceptively simple, the characters here are rich and very full.
For instance, Oldman’s character Paul is a pretty diverse character. There is a lot to him. I get the feeling he sort of went out living in the forest with his wife as a kind of challenge. One aspect I enjoyed once the villagers lay siege on Paul and the others is how there was so much tension between the two sides. On one hand, Paul feels he belongs there, and he does because he already lives there; he made it his home. The other side, the villagers, see him still as an outsider. Worse still, he has clearly wandered into their world. He is not one of them, regardless of how well he hunts and navigates the male-dominated world of the villagers.
This leads me to another part of BackWoods I enjoyed a lot. Whereas a lot of films might have taken up a portion of the running time drawing out the deformed girl’s story, rounding things out and maybe giving her some kind of history, Koldo Serra leaves intrigue to spare. We don’t get any definitive answers on what exactly the deformed girl is doing out in the woods, in the sense of who she is or where she came from – it’s simply a plot element. It sets up the city versus nature theme running throughout the film, which ultimately drives Oldman’s character. Norman, Considine’s character, is also affected by this theme, as he is even less of the “back country” type than Paul. He is even more thrown into chaos because of how far removed from that lifestyle living in the city keeps him. There’s even a scene where Norman raises his gun to kill a rabbit of his own – ultimately, he is unable to actually pull the trigger. This sets the stage for the real burning question to come later – can he pull the trigger when it’s more than a rabbit staring down the barrel of his rifle? We get the answer later in a very tense, horrifying scene. Of course, what happens then sets off a whole other chain of events.
The entire presentation of these themes is really well done, and made the film more than just a backwoods thriller. It lifted this from out of simple genre fare. This could very well have been some exploitation film, a cheap grindhouse style movie. Instead, it becomes a tension-filled dramatic thriller.
For the most part, a lot of BackWoods surprised me. I figured it might go down the same road as similar films. Instead, it subverts a few of my expectations. For instance, the scene where Norman is finally forced to either pull the trigger, or else face possibly terrible consequences, I really didn’t expect it to pan out the way it ended up going. I was happy because I thought Norman wasn’t going to change whatsoever as a character. His actions both change him and create more issues for his character to deal with. It’s really great stuff.
The ending, as well, was not something I particularly saw coming.
This can safely be categorised as a 4 out of 5 star film. There isn’t a whole lot wrong with it, but it’s not perfect whatsoever. I think Gary Oldman and Paddy Considine did a really wonderful job fleshing out the characters they portrayed. Particularly, Oldman gives a strong and emotional performance, unlike a lot of the roles I often enjoy him in, and I don’t know how more people don’t talk about this one, or at least mention it in passing – solid lesser seen role by Oldman. There are also a couple excellently paced chase sequences which help move the film along nicely. The pacing was helped by how the plot never gets too bogged down in one area, however, that’s also a drawback – I wanted to know more about Paul and Isabel because it seemed there was more to their relationship than what we were given. While sometimes it’s nice when less is more, there are case, like BackWoods, where I could have even done with an extra few scenes just to really give us a portrait of their lives. Oldman does such a spectacular job with his character, I feel even more justice might’ve been done to the film in general had they provided more insight.
Regardless, BackWoods is a pleasant surprise. When a lot of tripe gets doled out in terms of thriller films, this is a refreshing little movie that doesn’t go down all the expected routes.
While the DVD is fairly lame, providing only the film itself (though the picture/sound is beautiful & it looks gorgeous in widescreen) and a trailer, I highly would recommend anybody who can get their hands on a copy of the film do so – it is worth your time. I don’t watch it often, when I do I’m always impressed with the thrill it provides. If you’re a fan of Oldman, Considine, or just those gritty 1970s revenge thrillers in the vein of Straw Dogs and the backwoods city versus nature themes found in classics like Deliverance & even less praised titles like Southern Comfort, this will no doubt quench your thirst. You can do far worse for a movie night than BackWoods.
Honour. 2014. Directed & Written by Shan Khan.
Starring Aiysha Hart, Paddy Considine, Faraz Ayub, Shubham Saraf, Harvey Virdi, and Nikesh Patel. Code Red.
Not Rated. 104 minutes.
There are several reasons why I really enjoyed Shan Khan’s Honour. First, Paddy Considine. He is a fine actor, as well as director, but here it’s really put to the test. He plays a highly unlikable man for most of the feel, though we do see him become someone else through the process. Second, the script is really fantastic; it’s edgy, raw, there is grit to the themes within. Essentially, the story is about a young British Muslim girl who is targeted for honour killing after her brothers discover she plans to run off with a young Punjabi man. After their attempts to reel her in slowly come to a drastic and failed end, the family, along with the mother, hire a bounty hunter in London to track her down, and it just so happens he is a racist; though for a racist, he certainly knows the culture, even their language, well.In a day and age where there is a lot of conflict over extremists and fundamentalists in various religions around the world, I can imagine it was tough to make a film about Muslims and honour killing. The film is a tough one in every respect. At times it is brutal, violent, messy. Other times it comes across as a great crime thriller. The script is tense. The story is told on film in a non-linear fashion, giving us a look at what led to the family’s decision to kill the daughter. Khan did a great job with the script, plus it translated well to screen.
The acting came top notch here. I was very impressed with Aiysha Hart who played Mona, the young girl on the run from her own family, as well as Faraz Ayub and Shubham Saraf who played her brothers. Considine was absolutely incredible though, and it’s his performance which truly shines above all else. The look and feel of the film was gritty, something I always enjoy. How everything looked, dark and sort of grim, really fit the subject matter and the tone of the film.
All in all I have to give the film a 4.5 out of 5 stars. Everything worked together to create a really wonderful film.
The message is presented through Considine’s character. In the beginning, he is truly racist; he hates Muslims, any person of colour. Even though he deals with Muslims, he seems to have a disdain for them. He has white supremacist ink on his body, including an Aryan tattoo, which he later tries to singe off. By the end, after he has come to see the inner workings of the extremist Muslim circles and he sees his own behaviour mirrored in their fundamentalist, violent beliefs. Through others and their hatred, the character understands his own, or better yet he comes to reject it, understanding it is only hate, it is nothing but thoughts and misconceptions and foolish notions.
A must-see film. I highly recommend it. I don’t give it a full 5 stars, only because I felt there was something missing. Perhaps a little more of the past behind Considine’s character, though we get bits and pieces, would have made it a perfect film. Regardless, it’s still an incredible movie. It inspires hope, that people who hate can turn around, somehow, some way.