Gangster Paradise: Review for “Public Enemies”

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John Dillinger had a very obvious suaveness to him. He liked cars, movies, and could woo a girl in no time. He is one of the most famous bank robbers. And his career, if untimely short, has been put on the screen. The director is a very able one at that. Michael Mann knows how to direct an action flick. With smashes like Heat, he was certainly the Mann for the job to direct Public Enemies. Johnny Depp plays Dillinger, embodying his spirit and his mind set, and he does just a fantastic job doing so. Marion Cotillard plays his love, Billie Frachette. She, I think, gives the best performance in the entire film. She won the Academy Award in 2007 for her turn in another biopic, La Vie en Rose as Edith Piaf. Christian Bale, who has lately been choosing roles in which no one can hear him speak, plays the conniving and efficient Melvin Purvis. In this time, 1934, the FBI is just starting and J. Edgar Hoover is as corrupt as can be. The film works very well not only as a historical docudrama but also as an action film and as a character driven film. Great performances and spectacular authenticity. The film has a very glossy feel about it; replicas and props that look as if they came out of Grandma’s closet, cars that Clyde Barrow would be envious of, and spectacular picture quality. The Collateral director chose to film the movie digitally and in high definition, which means that though it looks like you could poke the chin of J. Edgar Hoover, there are a few “blips” in which the pixels are a little misplaced. Another problem with the film is that it feels as if the cameramen, in the intent of getting an “in-your-face” view of the Dillinger gang, used handy-cams. The shaky feel, depending on the viewer, makes you feel closer to the characters or simply distract you from the story. An otherwise excellent film, we should be seeing an Oscar nomination for both Depp and Cotillard.


Grade: A-

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