Austin Film Festival 2015 Review: LEGEND

By Liz Lopez

Rating: B+

There are frequently films available about criminals that can keep viewers on the edge of their seat. Stories about real life criminals can be very intriguing and oftentimes, if it is not a criminal based stateside, U. S. audiences may not know the history of the characters. The new biopic of the Kray twins, Ronnie and Reggie, Legend, is directed and written by Brian Helgeland, adapted from the book The Profession of Violence by John Pearson. I have not read the book, nor seen the 1990 biopic, The Krays, prior to viewing Helgeland’s feature. I was highly anticipating the film in order to observe Tom Hardy perform both roles of the distinctly different brothers, yet so alike in their ability to be savage in their own way. Hardy is outstanding and makes this film. There is plenty of crime and violence to satisfy film fans, but I certainly recommend viewing the film to see an outstanding performance of two characters, but especially when Ronnie is at “off his meds,” full tilt mental.

The setting is 1960s London and the wardrobe for this film is gorgeous, especially for Frances Shea (Emily Browning) who captures the eye of suave Reggie when she is a teen and they ultimately marry. Costume designer Caroline Harris excelled with many of the ensembles created for Frances and many of the customers seen in the bar/lounge scenes with live music. It is hard not to admire the glamour for that time period.

There are several scenes in night clubs and enjoyed hearing the sultry lounge singer, but I was totally surprised to learn pop star Duffy is cast as the vocalist. It is only one of many captivating songs for the film by Carter Burwell.

The underworld saga moves along with Frances narrating what her Reggie and his brother are involved in, but from the onset, the viewer can tell it will not be another story where everyone is living happily ever after at the end. These fellows are both volatile yet it is not totally conveyed in this film what led them to be this mental. There is one scene though that gives a weird vibe and it is when the boys are having family tea time with their mother, Violet (Billie Whitelaw). I don’t blame Frances for not wanting to hang with the mother in law, for sure.

Taron Egerton (Kingsman) performs as Teddy Smith, Ronnie’s gorgeous arm candy and love interest. I totally did not recognize him during the film. I was not expecting him in that role, but it certainly is another performance to be seen.

It is sad to see how Frances’ love of her life turns into quite a torment for her and where it leads her. No spoilers for those of you who look forward to viewing it in Austin theaters when it opens on Wednesday before Thanksgiving.

The international premiere for Legend was at the Toronto International Film Festival, and was the opening night film at the Austin Film Festival last month, with Helgeland in attendance.

The film has an MPAA rating of R for the over two hour film. Although the characters in the film wear lovely watches, I never wanted to look at mine during this film. I was completely engaged following the success and failures of the Kray brothers.

Source: Universal Pictures

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