‘The only thing that really matters… is how a man treats his family’
When we think of infamous Chicago mobster Al Capone, we think perhaps of Robert De Niro’s imperious performance in The Untouchables. Alternatively, we might turn to Stephen Graham’s violent loudmouth in Boardwalk Empire. What we don’t think of is Capone shitting the bed and chewing on a carrot believing it to be a cigar… and yet here we are.
Released from prison a broken man, former crime boss Al Capone (Tom Hardy) finds himself ravaged by neurosyphilis and haunted by ghosts from his past. His long suffering wife Mae (Linda Cardellini) attempts to stem the tide, but it is clear that Capone is finished.
Imagine every gangster biopic you’ve ever seen. Imagine Goodfellas and Donnie Brasco and Black Mass. Now imagine a film that is absolutely nothing like the aforementioned. In fact, conjure a film that is unlike anything else you have seen before, and you might stumble into the nightmarish arena of Capone. Everything about Josh Trank’s biopic is utterly insane. From Hardy’s growling primal ‘performance’ to the blurred lines between flashbacks, dream sequences and linear storytelling. Yet for all that strangeness, it cannot be denied that Capone is an entertaining film. It’s visually striking, Hardy is both wonderful and terrible in equal measure, but ultimately, I feel like I know less about Alphonse Gabriel Capone now than I did going in.
It’s difficult to know who this film is for? Hardy fans will hate it. Regular subscribers to the gangster film genre will hate it. It’s not quite avant garde enough for the David Lynch crowd. But despite this lack of a natural home, I would still urge people to watch it. It’s not great cinema, of that there can be no doubt, but is it important? It just might be. Most crucially of all, is it entertaining? Definitely.