Looks like we’ve got us a trippy Ned Kelly movie coming down the pike.
From The Guardian:
Justin Kurzel detonates a punk power-chord of defiance and anarchy with this brutally violent and unflinchingly stark tale that unfolds in a scorched, alien-looking landscape. The film is adapted by Shaun Grant from Peter Carey’s Booker prize-winning novel, and it is a further variation on the legend of Ned Kelly, the 19th-century Australian outlaw and bush-ranger at war with the English colonial oppressor. Kurzel’s rock’n’roll Kelly has a bit more in common with the spirit of Mick Jagger’s portrayal in Tony Richardson’s 1970 film treatment than with Heath Ledger’s in the 2003 version.
Kurzel directed the strange and powerful 2015 Macbeth, and it looks like he’s giving us a weird and twisted outlaw tale here.
The actual Ned Kelly story is weird and twisted enough for a fact. The Irish rebel legend that encrusts it obscures what is really a pretty sordid tale, rendered both sublime and ridiculous by his final shootout at Glenrowan, where the gang donned suits of DIY armor crafted out of plowshares.
As with Larry Phillips Jr. and Emil Mătăsăreanu in the infamous 1997 North Hollywood bank robbery and shootout, their body armor left their legs unprotected, with predictable results.
There’s something to be said for lurid, hallucinatory takes on outlaw legends. I tend to think that outlaw tales should be told large and strange, acknowledged as the folk tales they inevitably are. Peter Carey’s award-winning vernacular telling of The True History of the Kelly Gang is, of course not really true — it’s a legend about the making of a myth.
“…one of history’s most celebrated outlaws finally gets the film he deserves: one that grants him both macho magnetism and the deep, abiding strangeness on which a lasting cult is built.”
“Where Carey’s novel was in 13 sections, screenwriter Shaun Grant (“The Snowtown Murders,” “Berlin Syndrome”) has opted for just three — “Boy,” “Man,” “Monitor” — of increasing atmospheric derangement. The first is the plottiest, establishing the young Kelly’s complex family loyalties and the burnt-in origins of his anti-authoritarian spirit. His Irish father Red (Ben Corbett) is tormented to the grave by less-than-upstanding lawman Sergeant O’Neil (Charlie Hunnam); 12-year-old Ned inherits the grudge. His mother Ellen (Essie Davis) is a hard, proud matriarch, whose wounded love for her late husband is perhaps too intensely carried over to her eldest son; as he grows into adulthood, she both demands his loyalty and shames his ambition.
In a film boasting several tremendous performances, a virulently seething Davis gives the best of them: Wheedly-voiced one minute, coldly torrential the next, her Ellen is a mercurial knot of grief, rage and sex, darkening and corrupting Kelly’s family-first revenge mission even from a distance.
After an education in the laws of the wild — and the way of the gun — from loose-cannon bushranger Harry Power (a wonderfully grizzled, gamy Russell Crowe), Kelly resolves to defend and elevate his stained family name the violent way.
Forming the eponymous Gang with his young brother Dan (Earl Cave) and two nothing-to-lose friends, he also encounters a new colonial nemesis in Fitzpatrick (Nicholas Hoult), a tart, cruel police constable who seduces Kelly’s sister Kate (Josephine Blazier) — and seemingly, in one extraordinary dialogue scene prickling with queer, witching-hour energy, Kelly himself.
The Variety review asserts that Kurzel’s…
“…roaring, head-butting approach to “True History of the Kelly Gang” won’t be for everyone.”
I’m pretty sure that’s true. I’m also pretty sure it’s for me.