Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Charlie Hunnam, Michelle Dockery, Colin Farrell, Henry Golding and Hugh Grant.
Directed by Guy Ritchie.
Written by Guy Ritchie, Ivan Atkinson and Marn Davies.
The Gentlemen is, on the surface, exactly what you expect it to be – it’s a Guy Ritchie, fast paced, gangster movie about the British drug industry. Raymond (Charlie Hunnam) is right-hand man to the UK’s biggest weed dealer Mickey Pearson (Matthew McConaughey). When Raymond gets home late one night he finds Fletcher (Hugh Grant), a sleezy journalist who’s waiting for him. Fletcher has a story he’s ready to sell to the highest bidder involving Mickey, drugs, violence, and more, and as we watch that story unfold it serves as an introduction to a mixed bag of characters who’s stories intertwine whether they want to or not…
The 18 certificate is undeniably down to the sheer level of bad language and violence. I don’t mind either of these elements as long as they are telling a truthful story, if it’s all within context. I felt like some of the language in this movie was just thrown about and wasn’t necessary which tainted the overall experience. What surprised me was the carefully considered story line which was executed really well. The viewer experiences most of the narrative through the lens of Fletchers blackmailing story which was really effective, it doesn’t feel like it disjointedly jumps between the present and the past, it’s much more smooth which also reflects the characters and their natures.
The film is well formed and pretty to look at. While that’s aided by the brilliant cast, credit is deserved for the cinematographer Alan Stewart and costume designer Michael Wilkinson. Every scene has an air of class about it in both the way its shot and the wardrobe giving each character their own sense of style and purpose. They’re clear in our minds even before the characters have opened their mouths to speak, and their outfits become an extension of the kind of men they are at heart. From the beautiful suits to the leather jackets to Farrell’s track suit, it assists in the overall telling of the story.
Several of the actors fall into their comfort zones with these characters and that is not a negative comment, it’s exciting to see people do something they’re so good at while wrapped up in a story that could take a different route at any point. Charlie Hunnam is both smooth and terrifying all at once with a real sense of danger in every slight gesture while maintaining a gentlemanly front, McConaughey is just brilliant, as he always is, commanding the attention of each scene. But the biggest surprise for me was just how wonderful Hugh Grant’s portrayal of Fletcher is. He’s the total opposite to the charming, awkward leading man we’ve seen so many times before but is so committed to this funny little character. I found it both hilarious and captivating and really enjoyed seeing him play out of his typical casting type. I also enjoyed Michelle Dockery’s portrayal of Mrs Pearson – again the complete opposite of her role which shot her to stardom in Downton Abbey, she settles into the role naturally and doesn’t over compensate, she still carries a classy nature while expressing a believable link to the criminal world with flashes of danger that she carries both independently and in communion with her on screen husband.
This film seems to have gone slightly under the radar. I’m not sure whether that’s down to it’s certification or the fact it’s not a part of a mega franchise but it really is one to watch if you enjoy a good gangster movie. The intelligence of the story gives it more layers than just guns and egos and while painted with a classic sweep of Guy Ritchie it’s exciting and captivating with dashes of humour.