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HARRY BROWN, 2009
Movie Review

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HARRY BROWN, MOVIE POSTERHARRY BROWN, 2009
Movie Reviews

Directed by Daniel Barber
Starring: Michael Caine, Emily Mortimer, Iain Glen, Ben Drew, Raza Jaffrey, Liam Cunningham, Jack O'Connell
Review by Martyn Warren


SYNOPSIS:

An elderly ex-serviceman and widower looks to avenge his best friend's murder by doling out his own form of justice.

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REVIEW:

Although the short film The Tonto Woman (dir. Daniel Barber) didnít win the Academy Award in 2008 for best live-action short film, it did get the director some attention and was chosen to direct the screenplay of Harry Brown (dir. Daniel Barber). I can tell you now that this is definitely without a doubt that this is one of the best films I have seen this year!

The filmís story opens up with some mobile phone footage of a group of hoodlums doing drugs and playing around with guns on motorbikes on a London council estate, which sets the focus point of the filmís message and who the majority of the characters are.

We then see the rest of the film on ex-Royal Marine pensioner Harry Brown (Michael Caine) coping with the recent loss of his wife and being comforted by his only friend, Leonard (David Bradley), about his troubles and feelings. After some time passes, Leonard confesses to Harry that he canít live much longer from the horrible tricks from the youths and decides to take matters into his own hands, with Harry trying to stay away from the trouble caused by the teenagers on the estate.

Hearing the news the following day by police officers Frampton (Emily Mortimer) and Hickock (Charlie Creed-Miles) that his friend was found dead in an underpass, Harry decides to take action into his own hands and get revenge on the gang responsible for the death of his friend, while the police force are trying to deal with the dangerous youths in their own way.

This is one of those rare films that all the crew members worked really well together in crafting a brilliant British film.

For a feature film debut in directing, Daniel Barber has done a brilliant job in bringing Gary Youngís screenplay to the silver screen and although I havenít seen any of the two menís previous productions, their combination is definitely one that I hope will happen again soon.

The camera person in charge of the cinematography also deserves to be mentioned in shooting some very beautiful and gritty shots that did remind me of The Dark Knight (dir. Christopher Nolan) in terms of how the shots were so carefully framed, each one was like a photograph. While Iím on the subject of the camera person, the editor has crafted the cinematography really well and also deserves to be mentioned in this review.

With Michael Caine returning to a lead role once more after playing in the secondary characters for years, itís great to see him playing a pensioner with a taste for revenge.

The performance that Michael Caine gives is truly superb for the filmís genre and you feel his characterís emotions, making the scenes focussing on him talking to Leonard and spending time with his wife in hospital very dramatic. But he can also make the character look frightening and dangerous with the violent sequences when he confronts each member of the gang responsible for the death of his friend, showing another side of the actor that no young adults would have probably seen before.

Despite the lead performance portrayed by Michael Caine, the other actors in the film have done really well and they also shine through the story just as well. David Bradley, who plays Leonard, does a brilliant job in playing a scared old man and even though he appears for a few short scenes, he does stand on his own ground. Meanwhile, the young actors who play the gang members also do well for their part and thereís a scene where they are individually being interrogated and we get to see an insight of their backgrounds and their responses show the pure hatred they have against the police and the people around them.

Overall, this could have been another gritty British thriller, but the director really makes the film so much more and though it can be a bit hard to watch a couple of scenes, this is one of the best British films of the year! I canít wait for Daniel Barberís next feature film!

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