Subhash K Jha reviews the movie Capone

Review of Capone: Ugliest Bio-Pic You’ll Ever See

Capone (Amazon Prime Video)

Starring Tom Hardy as Fonse, Linda Cardellini as Mae, Matt Dillon as Johnny

Written, edited and directed by Josh Trank

Rating: * ½

Let me not beat around the bush and say straightaway that I hated this film. As a piece of ambitious cinema, pushed from the big screen to small by Corona, chronicling the closing one year in the life of the most famous gangster Al Capone, it sucks.

There is something inherently perverse about catching a legendary figure when he’s dying and has no control over his bowel movements and other bodily functions. There is so much darkness all around us these days. Why would we want to sit close to two hours watching a superstar fart defecate vomit and rant his way into an Oscar nomination?

I presume that’s what Tom Hardy is aiming for. Sorry, he ain’t getting it. Because he just doesn’t get it. If this is Hardy trying to do a one-up on Brando’s The Godfather,mumble, rumble growl and all, then he misses the target by a long shot. Apparently Brando placed marbles in his mouth to speak his mumbly lines. Hardy loses them. The marbles, I mean.

The actor, known to deliver hardhitting performances is hard hit on this occasion by a grotesquerie which he mistakes for grandiosity. Inexcusably the kinky bio-pic robs Capone of all dignity in his dying year, reducing him to a series of misfired bodily misadventures and an ongoing battle with his mind as he slips into progressive dementia right in front of our weary eyes.

The film is landscaped in a sense of looming doom. We all know that the only end to life’s journey is death. But do we have to see a powerful man reduced to being a helpless prisoner of his frailty? Hardy plays Capone with such ruthless directness, it is as if he despises the man he has been asked to play. That,I think, is the film’s main undoing. No matter how negative a character and loathsome his deeds, the actor playing him must find a core of humanity in him. I would recommend Hansal Mehta’s Omerta for Mr Hardy where Rajkummar Rao succeeds in finding that core even in an irredeemable terrorist’s character.

Making matters worse is the fact that Tom Hardy presides over almost every frame like a child that won’t let go of the swing in the park. Capable actors such as Matt Dillon and Linda Cardellini (playing Capone’s friend and wife) are seen looking distinctly distressed beyond the requirements of their parts.

What are they doing in this film? What is the director doing? Why must we be subjected to this unpleasant experience? As the narrative ploughs through puddles of putridity Capone’s sense of right and wrong are lost, and we don’t know if he is living reality or lost in dementia. Sadly we don’t care.

Really, Mr Trank. Do we need this kind of sunless cinema at a time when we are so constrained by circumstances? Thank you, but no thank you.

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