Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Ned Kelly Review

I'm a fan of history so I tend to like historical movies especially if they are based on true events.  I had never heard of this one until I got Netflix and I thought I should give it a try.  I grew up in Central Saskatchewan so the story is actually quite familiar to me but with different names.  The story of Ned Kelly is eerily similar to that of Louis Riel.  So is the attitude towards the characters over a century later.  A man in an oppressed minority rises up against the ruling class and is labeled an outlaw.  The troops come in and a series of bloody battles ensue.  To this day, both Kelly and Riel are viewed as either folk heroes or traitors depending on how you view the story.

There are two ways this movie could have gone.  It could have been upbeat and fast moving like Young Guns 2 or it could have been brooding and artistic like The Assassination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford.  While it is almost a hybrid of the two, it leans more towards the former and that is a good thing.  There are times in this film where they try to delve into the mind of Kelly through Heath Ledger's mannerisms and scenes with no dialogue.  But they do it sparingly and, for the most part, the plot progresses through a well written and acted story.  This does lead to some inconsistent pace which can be a bit distracting to the viewer but it isn't enough to make it poor.  Sadly, I think they may have stuck to the truth a little too much because, overall, the movie lacks any fantastical drama that movies like to have.  It took a good true story and kept the whole thing plausible.

The acting in this film is really what makes it good.  There are no poor performances right from the stars through to the minor characters.  Gregor Jordan was able to get what he needed out of everybody to make it believable.  Heath Ledger gives a fine performance as Ned Kelly and, while it wasn't his absolute best work, it was very solid.  He truly was a very good actor that we lost all too soon.

See it, especially if you like historical movies and those set in the 19th century.  It's an interesting twist on a western-like movie being set in rural Australia.  But is still has the feel of a good old western.

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