Midway through Inception I finally realized why the actor playing Eames was familiar–it was Tom Hardy, who I’d seen a few months before in the brutal, brutish and brilliant documentary Bronson. I just didn’t recognize him because he was urbane, dressed and not covered in mud and policemen!
Bronson is the stylized biography of English career criminal and ‘most violent man in England’ Charlie Bronson, who changed his name at an early age when he decided he wanted to be famous (but didn’t know for what).
When I saw the box cover in our Instant Watch queue I thought from it’s Tom Of Finland look that it was a gay documentary of some kind, and wondered if my boyfriend had put it in the queue for me, as he sometimes does.
Man, I was really, really wrong.
Bronson is still a marvelous film–just not the one I thought I was watching.
It’s genius lies in the fact that you realize early on that you are being charmed by a sociopath–what it took the Sopranos almost three seasons to address, Bronson manages to explore in about 2 hours. It shows Bronson the man as a stifled artist, a man with a rich inner life but no tools to express that other than violence. Violence became his art, and we the audience have a duty to remember that no matter how he convinces us to cry, how he charms us or shows us he just wants to be understood, he is still a dangerous animal.
And the engine powering this complex, manipulative machine is actor Tom Hardy.
Many biopics seek to paint a picture of their subjects not quite aligned with reality. They often overplay their sympathy–especially in the case of serial killers or psychopaths–while leaving out the inhuman cruelty such a person visits on their victims. No matter how ugly the portrait of a disturbed artist is, it is still attempting to humanize the subject enough for the audience to empathize with their plight. After all, who wants to sit and have their stomach turned for 2 hours by how revolting a human being can actually be?
Which is where we come back to Tom Hardy. His witty, sometimes funny portrayal of Bronson charms and entertains us, but never lets us forget that we are not to trust him, never to think that he’s ‘safe.’ He has depth, certainly, and there is something heartbreaking in watching someone who might have been a great artist founder on the tides of his own passions–but you must never, ever turn your back on him. Not for a moment.
(BTW, I’m not dissing Hardy’s appearance in Star Trek: Nemesis–it’s just I saw that when it came out, it’s not on Instant that I know of, and as a vehicle for Hardy’s acting talents it wasn’t that engrossing.)
Bronson is not a movie for everyone, but now that you’ve read a little about it (and perhaps will watch the trailer) you will appreciate what a marvelous range Tom Hardy has.
I point that out not because I am creepily fangirling him, but because MOST actors have a range they never get to explore, because they are typecast from the start. Although his depiction of Eames was spot-on, it is not the limits of his ability and I hope filmmakers in the future remember that.
“You mustn’t be afraid to dream a little bigger, Darling.’ – Eames