The Long Good Friday

Bob Hoskins in The Long Good Friday (dir. John Mackenzie, 1980).

Helen Mirren.

Bob Hoskins and Eddie Constantine.

The definitive modern British gangster film. Hoskins and Mirren take turns outdoing each other in portraying their unyielding delusions that they are capable of maintaining control over the personal empire they share. Eddie Constantine (of Lemmy Caution fame) as an American mafioso provides a coldly practical contrast to Hoskins' gung-ho enterpreneural fervor. The foundational irony of the setup--that gangsters who behave like capitalists are at odds with political extremists who behave like gangsters--gives way under the underlying, larger irony that this situation is closer to documentary than to allegory. The fluid camerawork by Phil Miheux (some of it handheld, but so steadily you can barely tell) and the searing electronic score by Francis Monkman complement each other perfectly, plunging the already precipitous narrative into a bloodcurdling tailspin.

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