Archive for July 11th, 2009

July 11, 2009

>Public Enemies (2009)


There’s something about the outlaws from the great depression era that has always fascinated me, blame the several Bonnie & Clyde screen portraits. There’s something romantic about boldly grabbing a gun and robbing a bank as an option against a mediocre life. Living a life full of danger and excitement, making your own rules, or no rules at all. Living fast, dying young. After all, that was the destiny of all of those infamous figures from the period known as the public enemy era (1931-1935). John Dillinger was one of them. But I confess I had never heard of him before, not until recently, when I heard about the latest film from director Michael Mann (The Last of the Mohicans, Collateral), a film which creates expectations from the moment one sees its trailer, and God, what a cast. And it didn’t disappoint me, not even a bit.

I doubt it will make into my top 10 favourites this year, but it will not be forgotten. The characters may lack a background life story, but who needs it, when you have an action movie that never bores you within its 143 minutes? Johnny Depp (oh, so charming, so charismatic) plays Dillinger, beautiful Marion Cotillard, his lover. The scene when Dillinger convinces her to “be his girl” is one of the sweetest and funniest I’ve seen in quite a while, maybe because it reminds me of those politically incorrect comedies starred by Carole Lombard in the 1930s. Depp and Cotillard’s chemistry delivers the most magnetic scene in the entire film, that you wish it will last forever, and it kills you to know in advance it will happen otherwise, although you can’t stop wishing the opposite.

Pursuing to capture the outlaws, it’s Christian Bale as the taciturn and enigmatic FBI man Melvin Purvis, who never loses his temper and is overall “the good cop”, unlike one of his partners who phisically abuses women in order to obtain valuable information. Purvis has pretty much the same facial expression through the entire picture, but I believe it’s Bale trying to be as subtitle and economic as his character’s words. The best scenes are those which require almost no spoken vocabulary, only a camera willing to follow every single bit of the action, running fast or slowly. Dillinger’s escape from prison to liberty is one of those, but it’s actually an intermediate scene and the final scene that breaths cinema, especially the final one, a communion between reality and fiction embracing nostalgia.