21st May 2020

Capone Is the Ugliest Bio-pic You’ll Ever See

Capone(Amazon Prime Video)

Starring  Tom Hardy as Fonse,Linda Cardellini as Mae,Matt Dillon as Johnny

Written, edited and  directed  by  Josh Trank

Rating: * ½

Let me  not beat around the bush and  say straightaway that I hated this  film. As  a piece of ambitious cinema , pushed from the big screen to  small by Coronova, chronicling the  closing one  year  in the life of  the most famous gangster Al Capone, it sucks.

 There is something   inherently perverse about catching a legendary figure when he’s dying and has no  control over his bowel  movements and other  bodily functions. There is  so much  darkness all around us these days.Why would we want to sit close to  two  hours watching a superstar fart defecate vomit and rant his way into an Oscar nomination?

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 I  presume  that’s  what Tom Hardy is  aiming for. Sorry, he ain’t getting it.Because  he just doesn’t get  it. If this is Hardy trying to do a one-up on Brando’s The  Godfather,mumble,rumble growl and all,  then he misses the  target by  a long shot.  Apparently Brando placed marbles  in his mouth to speak his  mumbly  lines. Hardy loses them. The marbles, I mean.

The actor, known to deliver hardhitting  performances is hard hit on this occasion  by a grotesquerie which he mistakes  for  grandiosity. Inexcusably  the  kinky bio-pic robs  Capone of  all  dignity in his dying year, reducing him to a series of misfired bodily misadventures and an ongoing  battle with his mind as he slips into  progressive dementia  right  in front of our weary eyes.

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 The  film is  landscaped in a sense  of  looming doom.We all know that the only end to life’s journey is death. But do we have to see a powerful man reduced to being a helpless prisoner of his  frailty? Hardy  plays  Capone with such ruthless directness, it is as if he  despises the man  he has been asked to play.  That,I think, is  the  film’s main undoing. No matter how negative  a  character and loathsome  his deeds,  the actor playing him must find a core of humanity in him. I would recommend  Hansal Mehta’s  Omerto  for Mr Hardy where Rajkummar Rao  succeeds in finding that core  even in  an irredeemable terrorist’s  character.

Making matters worse is  the  fact that Tom Hardy presides over almost every frame like a  child that won’t let go of the swing in  the park.  Capable actors  such as Matt Dillon  and  Linda Cardellini  (playing Capone’s  friend and wife) are  seen looking  distinctly distressed beyond the  requirements  of their parts.

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What are  they doing in this film? What  is the director doing? Why must we be subjected  to this unpleasant  experience?  As  the  narrative ploughs through puddles of putridity  Capone’s  sense of  right and wrong is  lost , and we  don’t know if he is living a reality or  lost in dementia.  Sadly we don’t care.

 Really , Mr Trank. Do we  need this  kind of sunless cinema at  a time when we are  so constrained by  circumstances?  Thank  you,  but no thank you.

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