[Film Review] The Long Good Friday (1980)

The Long Good Friday poster

Title: The Long Good Friday
Year: 1980
Country: UK
Language: English, French
Genre: Crime, Drama, Thriller
Director: John Mackenzie
Writer: Barrie Keeffe
Music: Francis Monkman
Cinematography: Phil Meheux
Bob Hoskins
Helen Mirren
Eddie Constantine
Derek Thompson
P.H. Moriarty
Bryan Marshall
Dave King
Paul Freeman
Stephen Davies
Paul Barber
Patti Love
Brian Hall
Pierce Brosnan
Kevin McNally
Tony Rohr
Daragh O’Malley
Dexter Fletcher
Rating: 7.6/10

The Long Good Friday 1980

This is de facto a very long Good Friday for London mobster boss Harold Shand (Hoskins) (and he might not be alive and kicking on Easter Monday), he must impress and convince the newly landed American mafia kingpin Charlie (Constantine) to a significant partnership of redeveloping his home turf, but is ambushed by a concatenation of foul plays from an unknown party, a car bomb aiming at his mother but kills the chauffeur, a luckily defused bomb found in his casino, his pub is blown up right in front of his face, but worst of the all, Collin (Freeman), one of his right-hand men and a chum who once saved his life, is cold-bloodedly murdered in a natatorium (whose bent predisposition subjects himself to a delectable but pestilant male bait, Brosnan in his screen debut).

When the shit hits the fan, Harold is bent on getting the bottom of it, even it requires to put his clueless cronies through the mangle (or more literally, hung topsy-turvy inside his abattoir) to extract any possible lead, meanwhile, he endeavors to keep a lid on the state of affairs from Charlie and relies on his girlfriend Victoria (Mirren) to mollify Charlie’s suspicion of his own absence, which turns out to be futile, he is left 24 hours to sort things out, if not there will be no deal with the Yankees.

For sure, someone close to him must have an inkling of what is going on (the go-to design of a mole within), and audience is granted with a preface in Belfast where Collin clandestinely appropriates some cash from his consignment, and taking its milieu into account, it is quite a cinch that IRA is implicated in some point, and screenwriter Barrie Keeffe’s puzzle-solving script takes routinely dramatic turns to work up Harold’s retaliation, lends him great opportunities of vaunting and venting to establish him as the real deal, a forward-looking, ruthless yet compassionate padrone imbued with Corleone-esque complexity, and a dumpy Bob Hoskins magnificently holds sway in rendering Harold a flesh-and-blood persona that defies simple compartmentalization, he is a live-wire simmering with aspirant ambition and sharp-witted wiles, a patriotic boaster but inanely reckons that the best way to solve all his problems is by elimination, that is his feet of clay, too cocksure in his tried-and-tested methodology which leads him to step into the taxi without even noticing who is inside.

Helen Mirren also makes for a spectacular moll, not the usual ditzy bombshell sort, but Harold’s equal with acumen and a wonderful admixture of dignity and vulnerability. A square-jawed Eddie Constantine exudes a flinty but suave sheen, which is always pleasing to watch, but it is up to the newcomer Derek Thompson, who plays Harold’s ill-fated consigliere Jeff, to supply emotional ammunition in the story by facing off Harold’s anger outburst, his childlike ambiguity between nonchalance and sophistication (and a touch of raffishness in the elevator scene with Mirren) leaves a delicate impression and outstrips many a more ostentatious player around him.

Director John Mackenzie proves himself an able journeyman behind the camera and his invention of Hoskins’ final shock-to-resignation long-take is a decisive coup-de-maître, sublimates a corny ending to something with a semblance of extraordinariness. But the movie’s blaring synth Muzak has taken its time to become a major pet peeve at that point, a sign-of-the-times short-changes this otherwise arresting, food-for-thought gangster iteration.

referential films: Francis Ford Coppola’s THE GODFATHER (1972, 8.4/10), THE GODFATHER: PART II (1974, 9.1/10).

Oscar 1980 - The Long Good Friday.jpg

One thought on “[Film Review] The Long Good Friday (1980)

  1. Pingback: [Film Review] Mona Lisa (1986) – Cinema Omnivore

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