IR Film Review: TRUE HISTORY OF THE KELLY GANG [IFC Films]

The perspective of a criminal mind can be the product of many stages. The texture of upbringing and formative experiences key into these factors but the idea rests within the situations that befall a character. in “True History Of The Kelly Gang” which has had its perception integrated before in the aspect of “Ned Kelly” starring Heath Ledger and Orlando Bloom some years ago, the texture here plays more into the idealism of the boy versus the expectation of a man The building of the man is formative and the imbalance of class struggles and the efforts of a normal children are sowed from birth. Ned’s mother is surviving herself and Ned admires her tenacity even when she herself uses him in a way for her survival. In these earlier times, the impressionable intensity of two characters played by Charlie Hunnan and Russell Crowe show two different sides of the life being led (especially in the 1870s when women had very little choice). Both these men offer their friendship to Ned but truly just as a pathway to his mother.

The eventual coming of age of the boy is quite intensely done in on e scene which imbalances Ned’s whole perception of his life. This s the most telling and best acted scene because it provides that intensity with Crowe, though overweight, showing his acting prowess. As the story progresses to Ned’s formative years, his mother’s influence but also his naivete paint an interesting picture of a boy wanting the idea of what a man is rather retroactively. He falls in love with the wrong girl who, as his friend who turns to be his enemy says, “is not the marrying type”. Most of the men and the women, in more practical fashion in the film, are only out for themselves and their interrelations are messy. This is more than adequately purveyed with the relationship between the Constable and Ned being the most telling.

George McKay plays the older Ned and it is a completely different person by far than he was in “1917”. This movie, as it was filmed, was made it seems a year or so prior to “1917”. Nicolas Hoult pays a slimy character but no more so than anyone else. The flash point, in trying to protect his sibling is what causes the decent into criminality because he seems to have no choice in the defense of his mother. Granted the idea is that he learned this from Crowe. Kelly’s actual decent into crime and madness is not really adequately defined in him. His life becomes broken on but literally in most points he is leading an army of would-be children. The final solution of his idealism shrouded in an ironclad mask works as an interesting low budget approach to a set piece but muddles the metaphors a little bit.

Granted this is more straightforward than the director Justin Kuzel’s “MacBeth” but less cinematic. The acting is good, organic and not stilted but the problem is within the script which operates tightly with a build n the beginning but seems to meander in its meaning a little too much as it personifies its ending with an author taking credit for understanding Ned in the guise of politics. While it is played for irony, the through line of Ned’s letters own letters have more power. It would have made more sense almost to break the 4th wall with McKay as Kelly telling his story from beyond the grave. Ned only did what he did for his family. It simply gt away from him and he lost control of both himself and his world..

C+

By Tim Wassberg

Posted on April 24, 2020, in Film Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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