Harry Brown

Well I was told that Michael Caine‘s latest film, a low budget British crime thriller, was basically the UK version of Gran Torino.  There are indeed a good few similarities between the two, no more so than in the basic premise of an elderly gentleman who can’t take the violent youth gangs any longer.  However Harry Brown is really very different to Clint Eastwood’s enjoyable, if over rated, story of vigilantism in pretty much every other aspect.

Caine plays a widower living in a grimy old high rise flat who is continually dismayed by the extremely violent gang culture that is prevalent about  the area.  When his friend is murdered he can take no more and, utilising his long suppressed military training, seeks justice the Old Testament way…

Harry Brown is not, however, a Death Wish style picture.  It’s very slow and surprisingly gritty and it only takes moments to make you consider how wonderful your life, your neighbourhood and, especially, your neighbours are when seen in contrast with those of the titular character.  Director Daniel Barber‘s pacing is extremely slow giving Caine the opportunity to shine as the lonely old man who has nothing left to live for.  The cinematography too is noteworthy, sitting somewhere along the David Fincher ‘Seven’ style of gloom and fluorescent bulbs and the very sparse musical scoring makes the gun bangs consistently loud and shocking.

Yeah it’s bordering on fascist in its political take on how society should deal with her failures and, though very, very depressing, I can’t help feel Harry Brown is a marvellous work of very British film making.  It’s a low budget pleasure and takes a normally glamorous genre and shows it as bloody, believable and most of all unpleasant.

4 out of 5

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