Mr Nice is the true life story of Howard Marks who was born into a coal mining family in South Wales in 1940's and then made it to Oxford University to study nuclear physics during the swinging sixties. With the help of fellow students, Marks built a worldwide marijuana smuggling network which became responsible for the majority of the drug smoked in the Western world during the 1970s and 1980s. Marks' adventures led him to have dealings with the CIA, PLO, IRA and the Mafia and he even became an MI6 agent himself for a period. Howard Marks is played by the brilliant Rhys Ivans, who won much acclaim for his portrayal of the folk hero. Written by
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Mr Nice is a rare beast of a film, it swaggers, it spits, it dreams, it punches, it laughs, it cries and of course and likely above all it gets stoned.
Howard Marks is the central character played effortlessly by Rhys Ifans, a welsh school boy turned big city student and pothead. We see Marks transformation through a series of off beat scenes in which director Bernard Rose reflects on Marks' humble, banal yet honest origins. Then our protagonist through a combination youthful substance experimentation and a fateful convergence of circumstances is established as an international Drug smuggler,
We are gradually introduced to a plethora of interesting characters that vary from casual love interests to drug dealing allies, who materialise as Ifans travels deeper into Marks' world of dope, dealing and debauchery. Amongst the group are fine supporting efforts notably from David Thewlis who delivers the hilariously cranky IRA terrorist turned middle man Jim. Chloë Sevigny convinces as the overly supportive wife and mother Judy and Omid Djalili sparkles intermittently as the Pakistani pusher Saleem Malik.
The film takes us through the tumultuous times of sex, drugs, betrayal, greed, prison and pot which Marks and his merry men navigate their way through against a lush backdrop of 70's pastiche. By the time we get to the stories conclusion we have great connections with the characters motives as a result of the superb cast and due to an impressive directorial mesh of humour and grit from Rose what's left is the best British film of the year to date.
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