I’m going to out it out there. I love this film. Now you could say it’s because it has double Tom Hardy in it (that is an absolute bonus), or you could say it’s because of the background story of the rise and fall of the Krays. For me this film works on many levels.
I’m not going to walk through the story line of this film, I think that the story of The Krays is probably out there enough for anyone reading this blog to know it (if not do take the time to Google them). I like that this was done from the perception of Frances. There are so many films out there on this underworld double act that to watch one not done from the view of one of their henchmen or any old outsider is refreshing.
The story does miss dirty great chunks of history out, but it doesn’t really detract from the film, I think it more reinforces the fact that it has been written as from Reggie’s long suffering wife’s perspective and that there was a lot she knew about….but a lot more that she didn’t.
Hardy give two of his best performances in this film, showing his diversity as an actor. I particularly like the fight scenes, these are well pieced together and seemless in their editing.
This film has however split opinion of the viewers, some loving it and some finding it less than favourable due to feeling that as well as story being missed, the other actors pale in comparison to Hardy’s performances.
I will admit there are things which have been missed which wouldn’t have taken a lot to introduce to the film. Such as the relationship with their mother and her involvement in their criminal activities. They briefly touch on it, showing the gang counting money in her kitchen, and brief visits to her, but it’s never really explored around the bond which the Krays had with Violet. This does seem to be an oversight as the east end loyalty to family is something that is very different to other family bonds out side of the London underworld and unless you have experienced that first hand (having half my family come from the east end I feel I can say this confidently) it’s not really something that is comprehendable.
There are other inconsistencies in this film, such as the placement of The blind Beggar pub. If using such an iconic location, don’t make it so it doesn’t look like the pub which you can still visit in Whitechapel, and certainly don’t make it look like it’s in a different location.
The script depicts Ronnie Kray as being completely open about is homosexuality, which while he had a select group called “The Firm” that knew about his preferences in real life, the film takes dramatic licence on this point, probably as it bring elements of uncomfortable, almost threatening humour to the piece.
Reggie (according to accounts documented by Frances herself) was apparently never physically violent towards her, favouring threats and physcholoical torture to her, but I think in the time that you get in a movie, it was by far easier to depict the threat over her towards the end physically as the documented mental torture of threats of killing her family, and Frances absolute fear of blood (apparently Reggie would cut his own hand and drip it over her while she slept) would have taken too long to build up in the piece.
Putting these faux pas aside, this is still a great film in my personal opinion. Exploring the mental issues, and psychology of the characters involved in these brutal and sometimes mindless events. The film is violent, funny, at times sad and always gripping.
If you are looking for a history lesson on the Krays, this probably isn’t the film you want to watch, but if you are looking for a gruesomely funny representation of what might have happened, then settle down and enjoy the film.