movie thoughts: Public Enemies (2009)

Full Disclosure:  Gangster movies are like Roller Coasters for me.  I’m not a fan of roller coasters, but every time I go to a theme park and see people having fun, I think I should maybe try one again.  So, once a year I hop on a roller coaster, remember all the reasons I don’t enjoy riding them, and go back to waiting at the exit to each ride, holding everyone’s bags and eating ice cream. 

Gangster movies tend to work the same way – I just can’t get into them.  But so many people were raving about this movie on their blogs, I felt I should give it a try.  Heck, it has Johnny Depp AND Christian Bale. 

Public Enemies covers the end of John Dillinger’s career, the middle of Agent Melvin Purvis’, and the start of J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI.  Yeah, that’s a lot to cover in a single movie, isn’t it? 

To me, the movie felt like it was written backwards – like the screenwriter read about Dillinger’s demise and was like “OMG that would be an awesome end to a movie!” and then worked from there.  So the start of the film is really slow and plodding, and you never really get to know the characters.  By the end of the movie, I was still more connected to the actors than the characters, but the action had picked up and the last bit was a lot more interesting (though it too could have moved faster). 

The best thing about the movie for me was Marion Cotillard who played Billie, Dillinger’s “true love” (or, as gangsters tend to do, the woman he decided to obsess over after seeing her from across the room).  She has one of those amazing faces, like Depp, that make the character seem deeper than the writing ever did.  I was happy any time she was on screen. 

In the end, the movie was too long.  I think if the editing had been a bit tighter and if the writer/director could have just picked ONE theme or ONE story, it could have been a stronger film.  As it is, it’s a mediocre movie that you can watch once but won’t really stick with you beyond the initial viewing.

I’m gonna go get some ice cream.

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