Friday, August 12, 2011

Harry Brown

You’ve seen the news about the riots and fires in London this past week.  Do not listen to the talking heads who say this is the poor against the rich.  That is an insult against all the poor people there who do not riot or loot.  And forget about saying this is a rising up of the working class.  These hooligans do not work. 

To understand these gang members better, rent the movie Harry Brown.  The movie’s namesake is an elderly pensioner played by Michael Caine.  He lives in a neighborhood where the residents stay inside as much as possible, peering out their curtains at the violence perpetrated by gang members.  These hooligans deal drugs and literally push people around in broad daylight, and terrorize the night.  As Harry tells a female detective while they are both hiding from an attack, these thugs kill for entertainment. 

When Harry Brown is forced into a kill or be killed situation, we find out  he is not so frail.  After all, he’s a former Royal Marine.  And when a good friend is killed, he is pushed too far.  Harry becomes the unlikeliest of vigilantes.   But will he be a match for the worst of the gang members, and will this new detective figure out what he is doing?

Harry Brown may be Michael Caine’s greatest movie, and that’s saying a lot.  He does not play a tough vigilante.  Caine was in his 70s when he made the movie, and he plays it as a man in his 70s.  We see the horror and grief in his face when confronted with the brutality around him.  This is a man who wants to live the quiet life, and we see how only the most extreme circumstances force him out of it. 

In the DVD comments, Michael Caine said he was surprised at how well-received the movie was among women.  His wife doesn’t like watching violence, so at the premiere he told her to just excuse herself for the restroom when she couldn’t take it, and he would join her.  She stayed for the whole movie.  Yes, there is blood at times.  But this is no Charles Bronson bloodbath.  We sympathize with Harry Brown and the plight of his whole community. 

Caine’s DVD comments also give some good tips on acting, and also some out-and-out funny stories.  But keep in mind these vandals who bully and rob and start fires are doing it for sport.  Our sympathies are to be with the victims of their mayhem, and especially those few who try to fight back.
Kayleigh Herbertson, who lives in Plymouth, has a refreshing perspective on the riots on her Articulate and Intricate blog.  

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