"Even though there is a darkness in the narrative, there are a lot of comical and charming moments"
The last time we saw Ronald and Reginald Kray on-screen was in the 1990 biopic starring Spandau Ballet’s Gary and Martin Kemp.
It took 25 years to see the iconic brothers back on the big screen, with everybody’s man crush Tom Hardy starring as the identical twins as L.A Confidential’s Brain Helgeland directs.
Like it or not, the crimelords were as big in ‘60s Briton as The Beatles, Michael Caine and the World Cup-winning England squad. They may have been violent thugs, but in public, they were rubbing shoulders with everyone from movie stars to politicians.
Helgeland makes an interesting move as he lets Reggie’s beautiful, long suffering girlfriend turned wife Frances (Emily Browning) serve as our guide into the Krays’ world. At she first portrays Reggie has a cheeky chappie Prince of the East End, but also see how uncomfortable she is around the hulking Ron. However, minus his psychological issues, he still has his own quirky sense of humour, which is all built around him being openly gay.
You see it through Frances’ eyes: the glitz and glamour, but, as the story goes on, you see the true nature of what it means be a Kray and the debauchery that comes with it. She still loves them, but knows they are monsters.
Browning is brilliant and you feel her warmth from the beginning, but as time goes on you see the life being sucked out of her and the voiceover may annoy some people, but does serve its purpose.
Ultimately, this film is all about Hardy and his fantastic performances because he not only makes the physical changes, he also juggles two completely different personalities and makes both the Krays fully rounded, individual characters.
Even though there is a darkness in the narrative, there are a lot of comical and charming moments, mainly around fight scenes involving Hardy fighting himself (which I particularly found funny). Also, the fact this only had 7-10 weeks to film is incredible and Helgeland does a brilliant job of getting the feel of a ‘60s London whilst retaining the grittiness in its background.
Verdict - This is Tom Hardy’s best film to date and, once again shows how great of an actor he’s become. While funny and charming, Lagend is still a tragic story. This is a must-watch.