Capone Review The Buff and The Blazer
Josh Trank’s Capone may not be the most critically acclaimed film based on the notorious gangster, but it is not without its strengths. Al Capone has become an infamous name in American history. His story spans a wide range of non-fiction and fiction alike especially in books and films. With the 2020 film, Josh Trank took a giant swing by deciding to examine the character from a unique angle during his late years. It is a story that takes the notorious gangster and breaks him down into a tragic and haunted figure. Interesting technical filmmaking and superb acting help sell Trank’s vision.
Josh Trank certainly has an eye for interesting visual storytelling. Capone is littered with beautiful shots and sequences. Capon’s introduction early in the film is achieved with complete surprise. The sequence is suspenseful and features an older Capone, sweating and slowly tracking what seems to be an intruder. As the scene progresses, we find that he is pursuing his grandchildren in a game of hide and seek. That scene is a great juxtaposition of Capone as a notorious gangster to retired patriarch in decline.
Another powerful sequence involves an elaborate hallucination. Capone recalls an event earlier in his life which involved a brutal murder by one of his men. The sequence features an old Capone walking through a crowded dance hall celebrating an occasion for him. He then gets on stage to sing with Louis Armstrong until he ends up in a bathroom staring at a reflection of his younger self in the mirror. From there, Capone is led to the depths of the building where a man is tied up and brutally stabbed. Later on in the film, he recalls this event and refers to the man who committed the crime as a murderer.
Both sequences discussed, involve dream-like first-person perspective shots that slowly creep around. They have a zombie-like quality. The film features several other beautifully shot hallucination sequences. One features Capone floating in swamp water on his property while an alligator creeps between his legs. The scene ultimately ends with a huge wave that rolls over and washes him out. All of the visuals in the film help sell Capone’s declining mental state.
Capone does not tout a particularly solid script. The film feels like the final episode in a miniseries featuring the life-story of Al Capone. There is not enough background established for any of the characters to develop a deep understanding of their dispositions. While there is much missing on the page, the actors do a superb job of giving the audience some perspective through their performances. Tom Hardy’s portrayal of Al Capone is extremely convincing despite not having much dialogue. His physical performance including his expressive facial nuances effectively conveys the character’s inner suffering.
Linda Cardellini also delivers an extremely powerful performance as Mae. We get a good glimpse of how difficult Capone’s situation is for her to deal with. Cardellini balances a strong level-headed demeanor with a sense of pain and helplessness. She also gives the character depth as someone that has to care for Capone in an almost infantile sense, while also respecting his position as head of the family.
Ultimately, the film while not widely acclaimed, features interesting technical filmmaking and excellent performances from its cast. In terms of ambition, it is one huge swing for the fences.
Capone is available on digital now!
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