Stylish remake of the Danish drugs thriller
This brisk, broadly effective remake relocates Nicolas Winding Refn’s tremendously successful Danish thriller to London, with Brit Richard Coyle in the role of small time narcotics supplier Frank, who’s tempted into taking a larger than usual risk on a larger than usual deal, and finds himself in a tightening noose of repercussions. The film is slow to get going, spending a bit too much time trying to make us excited about naughty people snorting coke in cool nightclubs; but it steps up considerably once the trouble kicks in.
Coyle is a very engaging presence: focused, likable, physically graceful, he’s able to convey exactly the right combination of blokey approachability and latent menace to make Frank and his ordeal convincing. Frank’s extreme emotional remove could have made him a dull character, but Coyle’s careful work hints at the issues broiling beneath his cool exterior. In one nicely played scene, he gives his lover Flo a set of expensive underwear, only to rebuff her violently when she tries to initiate sex: flinging large amounts of money around he’s good at, but real intimacy is his Kryptonite. The savagery of the beating he visits on his young sidekick Tony (Bronson Webb) in recompense for a perceived betrayal reveals not only that he has an active dark side, but also that he’s deeply, deeply vulnerable: Tony, one of the few people he trusts, has hurt him bad.
Terrific in support is Croatian actor Zlatko Buric, reprising his character from the Winding Refn film and its two sequels; and the coltish Brit model Agyness Deyn, though too porcelain-perfect to really be convincing as a broken-down druggie, is sparky and winning as Flo. Fans of the original will recognise this as a respectful cover version rather than an ambitious re-imagining, but it’s got style and energy.
Selected release from Fri 12 Oct.