Skip to main content

Harry Brown Review (a TIFF Preview)

Harry Brown (2009)
Directed by Daniel Barber
Screenplay by Gary Young
Starring Michael Caine, Emily Mortimer, Iain Glen, Liam Cunningham, David Bradley
World Premiere at TIFF in a Special Presentation

About 15 minutes into Harry Brown, you'll think you know pretty much exactly what's going to go down. Caine, inhabiting the role as only he can, stars as Brown, a weary pensioner living in a dreary "estate" apartment somewhere in a grimy corner of urban U.K., whose days consist of hopeless visits with his failing wife at her hospital bedside and afternoons at the pub playing chess over a pint with his friend, Leonard (David Bradley). He goes the long way around when the thugs who have more or less taken over the estate threaten from an underpass, and shuts the curtains when they mob and assault a man while stealing his car underneath his window. He listens in horror as his buddy talks about living in fear of their harassment and threatens revenge. It's been mentioned in casual conversation that Brown is an ex-Marine, so when his wife passes away and Leonard dies in a skirmish with the criminal element, you'll be thinking oh yeah, now it's payback time. But this is no cartoonish Steven Seagal outing, and the film's genius lies precisely in taking those familiar elements and truly surprising you with their outcome.

How does one believably get from feeble senior citizen to efficient instrument of deadly revenge? To start with, by casting Caine in the role. One of the real treasures of the cinematic world, he goes from glassy eyed confusion to steely ex-military with consummate acting chops, and he's helped by a strong cast, from the actors who play the brutish thugs who've taken over the block to Emily Mortimer's police detective inspector, cast as the lone voice of reason and whose character naturally pays dearly for that quality. The foundation is a great script, one that takes a fresh approach to the well worn genre. It unfolds in a chain of events that seems entirely believable - never false or contrived. The police investigation into first Leonard's murder and then the growing body count gets caught up in obtuse police politicking that accelerates the violence, bringing it to a conclusion you won't anticipate.

Cinematography is the third element working towards the film's strong impact, shot in an intimate style that veers as close as the pores on Caine's face, and sometimes in jittery, hand held sequences like the opening scene, where we join the neighbourhood thugs on a drug-fueled spree of violence with a breathless view from the backseat (see clip above). It's a taut, expertly crafted drama/thriller that delivers on every count.

Check out the screening times here.


Popular posts from this blog

Film News - imagineNATIVE Embargo Collective at the Berlin Film Fest

Hot Off the Presses:
(and gosh, doesn't that expression sound quaint these days?)

to have its European Premiere at the Berlin International Film Festival 2010
(Internationale Filmfestspiele Berlin 11.-21.02.10)

(Toronto, February 3rd, 2010) The imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival is pleased to announce the official selection of the festival’s Embargo Collective programme for the Forum Expanded section of this year’s Berlin International Film Festival. This programme of works was commissioned by the imagineNATIVE festival for its 10th anniversary and will have its European premiere Monday, February 15th, 8.30pm at Cinema Arsenal 2 and a repeat screening Wednesday, February 17th, 4pm at CinemaxX 6.

Curated by imagineNATIVE’s Artistic Director Danis Goulet, the Embargo Collective is an international group of seven Indigenous artists at the forefront of the changing global landscape of Indigenous cinema. Inspired by Lars von Trier’s The Five Obstructi…

Esmeralda Enrique Spanish Dance Company Spring 2013 Toronto Performances

From a media release:

The new season brings
Esmeralda Enrique Spanish Dance Company
to new heights and new audiences

March 20-24, 2013 - A Night in Madrid
April 25-28, 2013 - Annual Toronto Season - World Premiere of Portales

TORONTO : Following on the heels of Esmeralda Enrique Spanish Dance Company's (EESDC) 30th anniversary year where its production Aguas/Waters was named one of the top five dance shows of 2012 by NOW Magazine, the early months of 2013 are full of excitement and possibility for Esmeralda and the company, which brings the finest flamenco and Spanish Classical Dance to Toronto stages.

March 20-24, 2013 - A Night in Madrid
Company dancers Esmeralda Enrique and Paloma Cortés perform Spanish Classical dance with the celebrated Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and Chamber Choir for A Night in Madrid featuring the Iberian flavoured music of composer Luigi Boccherini who made his home in Spain. His work is infused with the sounds of Spanish and gypsy folk music.

March 20-24 …

Guitar Rock | Happy Freuds - Echo Of Sounds Independent: May 31, 2019

Guitar Rock
Happy Freuds - Echo Of Sounds
Independent: May 31, 2019
Stream/Buy on Bandcamp
Stream it on Spotify

With tight musicians and intriguing lyrics, Happy Freuds delivers high energy guitar rock with stylistic flair on Echo Of Sounds, their debut release. Produced with a minimum of overdubs or fixes, the album consists of a mix of original material, rearrangements of works from others and selected, less known, classic rock.

A kinetic rhythm section is the bones of the music, offering interesting patterns that augment sometimes unexpected harmonic changes. It's brainy rock, in other words, meant for music lovers who can appreciate the quality. Teo's vocals are raspy and expressive, growly when necessary - perfect for the musical mode. Teo also covers lead guitar, adapt at ear worm leads, with a tone that can be clean or dirty as required

Their sound ranges from straight up hard rock in tracks like The Mountain to the pop-flavoured acoustic Background Noise and folky To …