BARRY NORMAN: FILM OF THE DAY Public Enemies★★★★ 10.40pm-1.05am ITV
Michael Mann’s flawed but absorbing film deals with the last months in the life of America’s Public Enemy Number One, John Dillinger. It’s absorbing because what Dillinger did in that time — escaping from jail, robbing police stations, taking part in gunfights and constantly taunting the cops — was remarkable; flawed partly because your sympathies should be with Melvin Purvis, the FBI agent pursuing Dillinger. But they’re not because Dillinger is played by Johnny Depp and Purvis by Christian Bale, and it’s the cool, ironic Depp who has the charisma. Along with crime and violence we also have Dillinger’s romance with a waitress, Billie Frechette (Marion Cotillard), all of which adds up to a very watchable movie with fine performances all round. On the debit side we’re not told why Dillinger took to a life of crime and everything unfolds rather too gravely. You do feel that even murderous bank robbers must have had their lighter moments, but we’re not shown any.
Tom Hanks spends most of this film alone, bearded and talking to a volleyball. But it’s affecting, thoughtful, and includes a crash course in do-it-yourself dentistry. (Although, seriously folks, don’t try this at home!)
Gael Garcia Bernal indulges in a rich fantasy world, almost missing the real-life woman of his dreams (Charlotte Gainsbourg). One of director Michel Gondry’s barmiest films – and that’s saying something.
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