Geraldine BigelowRewind

The Long Good Friday

Directed by John Mackenzie

1980

The Long Good Friday is a swift, sharp-edged gangster film with a lot of gritty cockney charm.

Bob Hoskins shines as Harold Shand, the bulldog boss of a criminal empire trying to go legit with a huge real estate deal in the London docklands. But on the day of a meeting with potential US mafia investors his dream is jeopardised by a series of mysterious bomb attacks on his businesses. While he goes in search of the culprits, his old lady (Helen Mirren) tries to placate the anxious Americans who give Harold 24 hours to put his house in order. This she does moored on the Thames in a yacht, symbolising her tenuous hold on the anarchy of the events bringing down her penthouse lifestyle!

The tension builds over Good Friday and by Easter Saturday every rival gang member in London has been intimidated and tortured until the plot line pulls itself in an unlikely direction towards a little country over the water renowned for its bomb making skills!

So much about this film is an indictment of 80s bad taste, from the greed and corruption right down to the knock-out synth score and the wide ties. It does exhibit a paucity of visual film style, which is perhaps a reflection of Mackenzies practical TV direction as The Long Good Friday was his debut into film. Its vitality lies in the charismatic performance of Hoskins who is at once brutal, affectionate, devious, humorous and terrified. His cockney vernacular and rough edged authenticity contrasts with the elegance and class of Mirren, as the cool and languid moll. They make an intriguing couple amidst the tricky plot line of this exciting east end gangster flick which is a definite forerunner to the work of Guy Ritchie.

It has been hailed alongside Get Carter as the mother load of the Brit criminal film class.


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