A series of film reviews and opinion pieces from a film student and all round movie lover! Happy reading!
Alfred the butler becomes Harry the butcher in 2009’s “Harry Brown”, directed by Daniel Barber. Michael Caine plays Harry Brown, a wearisome, lonely and elderly widower who overlooks the derelict housing commission that has been infested with ignominious, radical youths.
A seasoned ex-serviceman, poor old Harry Brown becomes increasingly fed up with witnessing crime, barbarity and even murder from outside his window night after night and decides to take matters into his own hands; the death of his best friend is icing on the cake.
Displaying the slums of Britain in all their glory, the film is gritty and dark from frame 1.
Beginning in shocking fashion with a hand-held camera sequence showing a group of young upstarts harassing a mother and her infant child in a park by firing gunshots in her general area, “Harry Brown” establishes itself as a film that will hit hard, very hard.
On top of feeling immense sympathy for Caine’s Harry Brown, the element of contrast plays such a large part in furthering that care we express for the lonesome, sombre protagonist.
Energy is contrasted with plodding movements, loud, excessive profanities are contrasted with a deep breaths and soft speech, whilst the biggest contrasting point is demonstrated through the quantity of these despicable punks compared to the singular, isolated Harry.
What is so powerful about “Harry Brown” is that when Harry himself begins to enter this contrasting world, the tension, mood and connection with the narrative and character increases tenfold.
The overrunning by these repugnant, poor excuses for human beings of Harry’s neighbourhood has resulted in him feeling like a prisoner.
His best friend Leonard (David Bradley, a.k.a, “Mr. Filtch”) says to Harry early on, “I’m scared Harry, I’m always scared.”
Brown decides to exhibit his own personalised form of justice, and boy is it a sight!
Michael Caine is superb as Brown. The sight of man such as Caine bursting into tears is enough to make anyone lose control, whislt his sheer ‘badassery’ at times is awe-inspiring.
Ben Drew (otherwise known as British pop star Plan B) gives a solid performance as Noel Winters, the head thug being pursued by Brown under suspicion of murder. He is vile, disgusting and contemptible as a character, but this is the sign of a fine acting talent being displayed.
The majority of the scenes are incredibly eery and brooding, adding to the darkness and ugliness of the setting.
Some of the places that Harry visits are truly disgusting. For instance, the visit to the drug den to purchase a gun leaves an unsettling feeling in the stomach to say the least.
What let “Harry Brown” down predominately came from narrative qualms. There are some elements in plot where it lacked development and progression, plus the series of events seemed to happen all too quickly, not leaving room to build up certain characters and scenarios.
Ultimately, Daniel Barber’s 2009 revenge thriller is about Harry Brown, who comes to town, bearing a frown and shooting reckless juveniles down.
Seeing Michael Caine get into some scarily tense situations is a pretty amazing sight. The vignetted shots, the ominous score, the hard hitting narrative structure and some solid but disturbing performances make “Harry Brown” an intense thrill ride from start to finish.
It showed a lot of promise, but a few plot choices here and there could have added so much more to the film.
One message shines through without a doubt; respect your elders kids!