This movie got some attention during the awards season and a lot of people went: huh? Because they hadn't even heard of it, let alone seen it.
But besides being aware of the nominations and awards (Colin Farrell got a Golden Globe) and some critical acclaim, several good friends recommended it, some with caveats about the violence or the ending etc. But I never got to see the entire movie all the way through until last night.
Yes there's some contrivances that you have to surrender to in order to fully enjoy this flick, and yes the violence at times seems a bit gratuitous. But man oh man the performances and the setting and the set up! Absolutely terrific for my taste.
I've often wondered about Colin Farrell, he seemed so promising and then fell apart, both as an actor and it seemed as a person. But in this film, he gives an Oscar worthy performance. It is so full of comic and tragic nuance underneath broader comic and tragic projection, it's like a lesson in expressing on film the entire spectrum of human emotion.
I'm serious. It's a teaching-worthy performance. Impeccable. And partly what makes it so impressive is the character he's playing is at least superficially a doofus, an Irish working-class guy trying to be "a hard man"—as the Irish say—but with few clues, yet with, as we discover, layers of intensity that in any other flick would be played strictly for emotional impact, but in this case swing so fast from comic to tragic and all the shades between it's like we're at home with a member of the family, or clan, at least in my case.
And Brendan Gleason gives yet another great performance in a history of consummate performances. Which makes watching him and Farrell together as delightful and satisfying as any other great movie pairing—Newman and Redford, Hepburn and Tracy, Wallace Shawn and Andre Gregory, or the entire cast of SPARTACUS or LARS AND THE REAL GIRL, etc.
And then, like an extra dollop of dark chocolate sauce on your flowerless chocolate cake, there's Ralph Fiennes in a supporting role that he would seem to be totally miscast for, except that he turns it into a tour de force performance that is not only convincing and effective, it's totally entertaining.
I wish I caught the names of the director and screenwriter, because they obviously drew this performance out of Farrell and crafted this gangster fair tale that creates something new out of a very old idea in a way you've never seen before, or at least I never have. I'm very happy to have now.
[Duh. I just looked it up on that IMDB site and found out it was written and directed by the Irish playwright Martin McDonagh! No wonder it's so well crafted and so original. He's been recognized as a genius playwright since his first play was produced. And rightfully so. I'll have to see the only other movie he wrote and directed SIX SHOOTER.]