A young man who was sentenced to seven years in prison for robbing a post office ends up spending three decades in solitary confinement. During this time, his own personality is supplanted by his alter-ego, Charles Bronson.
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In 1974, a hot-headed 19 year old named Michael Peterson decided he wanted to make a name for himself and so, with a homemade sawn-off shotgun and a head full of dreams he attempted to rob a post office. Swiftly apprehended and originally sentenced to 7 years in jail, Peterson has subsequently been behind bars for 34 years, 30 of which have been spent in solitary confinement. During that time, Michael Petersen, the boy, faded away and 'Charles Bronson,' his superstar alter ego, took center stage. Inside the mind of Bronson - a scathing indictment of celebrity culture. Written by
Director and Leading Man combine in an excellent expression of style.
Tom Hardy and Nicholas Winding Refn are the stars of the show here, taking the story of 'Britain's most violent prisoner' and twisting it into an explosion of style.
Tom Hardy plays Michael Peterson who was initially incarcerated for 7 years after robbing a Post Office but this sentence turned into a 34 year stretch after numerous cases of violence in prison. Of these 34 years 30 were spent in solitary confinement. In his short period outside he assumed the fighting name of Charles Bronson after the Death Wish star. It is his alter ego which dominates the film.
Hardy is magnificent, prowling around people almost growling, a hulking, brooding, unpredictable beast who almost doesn't care what happens to him, preferring gaol where his is someone to the outside where he is no-one.
Many reviewers have been troubled by the lack of insight into the character of Bronson, however this is unsurprising as the story itself is narrated by Bronson himself, cutting back to a fantasy audience where he parades in varying levels of makeup, the star of his own show.
Refn handles this material with aplomb, filling it with tracks and pans, the occasional slice of slow motion, an interesting and varied colour palate and impeccable taste in music. Kubrick and A Clockwork Orange have been mentioned in almost every review, but there are clear influences of Bertolucci, perhaps mostly The Conformist in its detached style and use of colour.
By the time the film ends we are unsure who to feel sorry for, lost in a world of hard lines and constant violence. A very interesting film that marks out Hardy and Refn as exciting talents in modern cinema.
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