See what they did there? That's called irony, motherfucker.
Bernard Rose is quite an interesting director, if only for the presence of Candyman on his CV, otherwise he makes interesting, thoughtful movies, usually with a classical edge to them. There's the Tolstoy modernisation in Ivansxtc, an emotionally charged Beethoven biopic in Immortal Beloved and Anna Karenina. So there Candyman sits, an awesome horror movie in amidst 19th century biopics and adaptations of classic literature. In a way I think its what gave him his credibility and career longevity, yet for some reason I'd bet its the film on his CV he's most embarrassed about. Oh well.
His latest forray is one of his stronger efforts I think. Mr Nice, as is dictated by the self-effacing philosophy of the biopic, follows a formula. I think it kind of accidentally ended up a very similar film to the Johnny Depp starring kingpin-biopic Blow, narratively speaking I think they could pretty much be the same movie, but I think this may be slightly more successful. If not for what happens in it, then for the performances from Rhys Ifans and David Thewlis. Particularly Thewlis I think, whose been kind of stock playing bad roles in hollywood movies for too long, really cuts loose here as IRA man Jim McCann, and its one of the more entertaining performances I've seen this year, cutting between legitimately threatening and legitimately hilarious, its almost worth seeing just for him. Ifans does a very good job in the lead too, a performance full of the charm one might have come to expect from the guy. He's an interesting and always likeable actor, and perhaps the perfect fit for a Welsh drug kingpin, as hard as it is to believe that there ever was such a thing. Chloe Sevigny does perhaps a little less well in the role of Ifans' wife, struggling a little with the English accent, but its not a bad performance, and doesn't detract from what elseis going on.
The film ends up being an enjoyable ride, and Rose is nothing if not visually gifted, finding ways to make the familiar scenes, and to be fair there are a lot of them, more striking then they would usually be. As biopics go, its one of the better ones, simply because its entertaining and that makes you more liable to forgive a film some of its shortcomings. Maybe I'm being kinder to it because otherwise this week was such a dogpile, but I had fun, so. The story it tells is kind of biopic by numbers, but the way it tells it is a slight more vibrant and energetic then usual, and the performances of Ifans and Thewlis clinch the deal I think.