Sunday’s New York Times had a good feature/interview with Bronson director Nicolas Winding Refn, who recently had a retrospective at BAM. This film, which begins its theatrical run this weekend courtesy of Magnolia/Magnet, is a major piece of work. I think it’s a brilliant prison film and biopic, especially because it reinvents both of those genres. Refn’s career has been long, varied, and mostly uncommercial in America. With the one-two punch of Bronson, and his new film Valhalla Rising (which IFC acquired in Toronto), perhaps he’s gonna find his deserved audience. An excerpt from Dennis Lim’s profile piece:
Mr. Refn was skeptical at first [about making Bronson]. “I didn’t want to do another movie about crime,” he said. “But I was interested in the concept of someone who transformed himself and created his own mythology” — to the extent of renaming himself after the tough-guy actor Charles Bronson. Mr. Refn said he radically revised the existing screenplay. He added: “This is not a movie about a man escaping outward, which is usually the objective of prison movies, but about a man escaping inward.”
Hardly a typical biopic, “Bronson” more or less takes place inside the head of its cellbound antihero (played by Tom Hardy), who also serves as the story’s narrator, appearing on a spotlighted stage as a sinister M.C. in burlesque makeup.
“The one thread that goes through everything he does is the narcissistic need for fame,” Mr. Refn said.