Thursday, August 11, 2011

365 Movies Day #136 "Pusher"

Nicolas Winding Refn is back in the blog. First, with his 2009 visually stunning viking flick "VALHALLA RISING" and then with his prison biopic "BRONSON" from 2008. "Pusher" is the film that jumpstarted his career as his first feature back in 1996.

The film is shot in a minimalist style where the viewer is basically following around the main character. I'm not usually a big fan of that style of shooting, but with Refn and such a compelling story, it's easy to lose yourself in this film. Frank, played by Tom Sizemore clone Kim Bodnia, is a drug dealer who suddenly finds himself in way over his head. Teamed up with his long time buddy Tonny, who is played by Mads Mikkelson in his first feature, they set out to score big. Mikkelson was referenced before as the lead in Refn's "VALHALLA RISING" and "ADAM'S APPLES" and was my favorite character in the 2004 "King Arthur". Not to mention his role as the Bond villain in "Quantum of Solace".

Frank finds himself deep in debt to drug lord, baker and the most polite mobster around, Milo, played by Zlatko Buric ("DIRTY PRETTY THINGS" who actually reprises his role in the upcoming 2012 remake (yes, we have to remake every movie that has subtitles...Americans). The characters are all very real. The conversations a more casual version of Tarantino dialogue. Frank, for example, is constantly revealed to have great disdain for people very similar to himself or related to what he does. He is prejudiced against hookers (though he is a drug dealer), people who don't pay him back (though his guilt of the same crime is the catalyst for the film) and junkies (on which he depends for a living). It is apparent that at some level, he is at war with who he is. There are some revelations with Milo's knee-capper Radovan (Slavko Labovic) who states that he would like to give up being muscle to start a restaurant.

All in all, it's a great film with wonderful characterization and interaction (unusual for it's type of film). The play between Frank and his Champagne girl girlfriend, Vic (Laura Drasbæk) is fantastic based on the hypocrisy involved and the fact that Frank needs her on a level he fails to recognize...and it costs him. I can't wait to see the other two films in the trilogy! Oh, and Refn makes one of two acting appearances of his career in this film as Brian. That and many of the actors involved here are regulars on the Danish hit series "THE KILLING" which has been remade without subtitles (Americans...) as a much-lauded new series for AMC.


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