Fantastic Fest 2009
By Don Simpson | September 23, 2009
Director: Nicolas Winding Refn
Writer(s): Brock Norman Brock, Nicolas Winding Refn
Starring: Tom Hardy
The year is 1974. We find our humble narrator and star of the film, Michael Peterson (Tom Hardy), attempting to rob a post office with a homemade sawn-off shotgun (he scores just under 30 quid). Peterson, a highly volatile 22 year old from Luton, England with an already checkered past under his collar is promptly apprehended and sentenced to seven years in jail. He quickly adapts to his new milieu, so much so that he extends his stay indefinitely – spending a total of four months outside of custody and over 30 years in solitary confinement to date.
Peterson uses his prison time to transcend into a carefully crafted alter ego – Charles Bronson. A superstar in his own mind, Peterson/Bronson becomes increasingly violent to a point that the British prison system can no longer hold him (he spends time in over 120 prisons and is dubbed by the British press as “the most violent prisoner in Britain”). Hence Peterson/Bronson is pumped with enough drugs to turn him into a vegetable and he is sent off to Broadmoor high security psychiatric hospital – but even the strongest prescriptions can’t keep Peterson/Bronson from fighting, and he is quickly returned to the prison system.
Did I forget to mention that this is based on a true story?
Hardy’s transcendental performance is reason enough to see Bronson – there are few performances will ever top this one. The real Michael Peterson should be proud. Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn, Bronson can be read as a scathing indictment of celebrity culture and glorification of violence in the media; or perhaps a critique of the prison system’s inability to rehabilitate criminals; or maybe an example of how a downtrodden economy makes some people want to go to prison for free room and board…
Let’s just leave it at: Bronson is to A Clockwork Orange as Moon is to 2001: A Space Odyssey. Or something like that…
Bronson will be screening at Fantastic Fest 2009 – go to http://www.fantasticfest.com/ for screening times.