Posted by: Dr P | November 14, 2009

Harry Brown

Have you ever wondered what would happen if your grandad suddenly went completely psycho and started massacring hoodies? If so, this is the film for you.

However – BE WARNED! This film is grim, gritty, stark, bleak, realistic and quite horrifyingly graphic – it’s a bit like watching Rochdale to be honest. If you’re not in a positive place, avoid it!

Michael Caine stars as Harry Brown, a reclusive ex-Marine living on a dreadfully violent and rundown inner city housing estate; as the movie opens his wife lies in hospital in her last days, and his only friend is Len, another grizzled pensioner whose life is terrorised by the gangs of drug pushers and thugs who rule the estate. A small moment of light relief came when we noted that Len was played by David Bradley, who stars as Filch the caretaker in Harry Potter – we kept wondering where his cat was …

When Harry loses both his wife and then Len (in a horrific and graphically-shown killing), he decides that enough is enough and sets out on a crusade of vengeance and violence against the local hoodies and drug runners. Meanwhile the escalating violence and random crimes are under investigation by the local police, led by D.I. Frampton (the superb Emily Mortimer).

First to go are a pair of drug dealers and weapons suppliers. Now be warned, the scenes where Harry visits their den are among the most disturbing and haunting you’ll see this year; there’s heroin injections, drug-fuelled rape, extremely violent shootings and more. It’s not easy watching. The acting is marvellous but my goodness the subject matter is hard.

Perhaps the director may have made it a bit easier to bear had Caine played Harry as some kind of inner city Rambo – perhaps he could have put a headband on and stalked everyone with a rocket launcher, shouting “I only meant to blow your bloody legs off”. As it is, there are virutally no moments of levity throughout, and the only laughs to be had are extremely uncomfortable ones.

In these days of ultraviolent horror and gorefest movies, in many ways the stark realism underlying the events of this film are without doubt far more harrowing – there’s little doubt that much of the movie will have been based on real incidents and situations – the shocking scenes when Harry and the D.I. are holed up in the local publican’s bar are horrendously brutal.

Even Gareth seemed shocked by the film – and let’s face it, he has to put up with my jokes every week, so he’s used to abject horror. We drove home in near silence afterwards, indeed when the radio went on and Norah Jones was heard wailing miserably, we both reached for the off button and said “Noooooooo”.

We did manage to cheer ourselves up by speculating on a collaboration between our old friends Darth and Yoda, who really ought to release a Shakira tribute song. “Jedi in my closet, there is” (followed by Darth breathing heavily).

Of course having got home and just about cheered up, I then promptly dropped an iron on my foot just to complete the uncomfortable evening.

Caine and Mortimer in particular are superb in this film, but as I have said throughout, do NOT go to this if you’re not having a positive day. It’s really disturbing to watch and totally lacking in lighter moments!


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