My search for the meaning of Bronson

After seeing “Bronson” was picked as the movie of the month on LAMB, i decided to check it out on netflix. I was panning to do a deep analytical post on it…but to do that i would need to see the point of this movie is, and unfortunately i didn’t see it. For those who don’t know, the movie is a biopic of Britains most famous prisoner Michael Peterson(who got the nickname Charles Bronson, hence the title), played by Tom Hardy.

During the beginning of the movie, i thought maybe it was trying to be a sort of tribute to Clockwork Orange, or at least the idea of trying to show society’s uglier side. But imo the character didn’t feel relatable enough for me. I couldn’t see Bronson really symbolizing any sizable part of society, unlike in A Clockwork orange where Alex seemed like a product of his society. In fact, after seeing this i actually appreciate A Clockwork Orange a lot more because of this.

I then thought maybe it was trying to say something about the pursuit of fame, but imo that didn’t work either. From what i got from the movie, Bronson was violent from the start and decided later to try to become famous for it. He wasn’t someone trying to become famous through any means necessary, he just happened to find something he could use to make himself “famous.”

I also think the over-stylization of the film made it lose any possible meaning it could have had. Going back to A Clockwork Orange, whenever it got to its violent parts it was extremely hard to watch. Despite it being made years ago when movies tended to be more tame in respect to violence than now it still had impact. Bronson was made recently, and despite the level of violence in the movie i didn’t really feel anything from it. I realize that sometimes stylized is just what the doctor ordered, but i just felt like in this case it shouldn’t have been so easy to watch.

Now, i realize that not all movies are supposed to have deep meanings behind them, and i don’t mind popcorn entertainment when its done right. But i feel if i am going to spend a whole movie with a character as consistently unsympathetic as Bronson, i would like there to be something deeper to make it worth it. And to me Bronson just didn’t have that.

I hate to be so negative about this film, as i came in wanting to like it, and i have watched and loved films with less than saintly protagonists. But Bronson just did not click with me.

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21 Responses to My search for the meaning of Bronson

  1. markuswelby1 says:

    My writing partner has been wanting us to watch this one. Tom Hardy is starting to turn dare I say Gary Oldman-esque in his ability to look completely different for each role. You might like “Chopper” a true story in the similar vein.

    • I didn’t actually like this one(i figured that was apparent but maybe not?), so i don’t think i would want to seek out another movie like it

      • markuswelby1 says:

        Oh I got it that you didn’t seem to like it, but I just though maybe you’d give something else like “chopper” a chance. If for nothing else, the amazing transformation of Eric Bana. I dig it when guys like Bana and Hardy go all out for a part. I’ll still have to see Bronson to see if I stand on your side of the fence on it.

  2. DEZMOND says:

    I haven’t watched it yet, and, having in mind how violent you say it is, I probably won’t. But I do love Tom Hardy, he is one of the best dramatic actors of his generation, too bad he always gets some brutal violent aggressive roles to play.

    • I figured you wouldn’t be into this one, but honestly despite the level of violence none of it is all that hard to watch imo. It is far to stylized to be at all uncomfortable.

      Also, i am generally not that bothered by his role choices.

  3. I actually haven’t seen this one either, but I am a bit surprised that you didn’t enjoy it.

  4. Sir Phobos says:

    I’m still eager to see this. From what I’ve read, there’s not supposed to be some bigger meaning tacked onto the true story. It’s just how crazy the guy is. Maybe all it set out to do was sort of get inside his head or something. And, yea, Chopper is awesome. Bana’s character is also unsympathetic, but the movie is damn good.

    • Perhaps so, but if it was just to show how crazy he is then i guess i didn’t find that enough for me

      Ad i may check out Chopper, but i am not eager to see another movie like Bronson anytime soon to be honest

      • Sir Phobos says:

        I think it’s in our nature to want to identify with characters in movies, but I can also enjoy totally unsympathetic ones if the movie is done well enough overall. The Long Good Friday is another one. It’s a British gangster movie starring Bob Hoskins. He’s a total douche, but it’s engrossing to watch him on his downward spiral.

        • For me, if a character is just totally unsympathetic then i would at least like to e able to see a point to it. For example, I liked American Psycho because even though the main character is as unsympathetic as they come i felt it was a satire of “yuppie” culture(or what “yuppie” culture was from what i’ve heard). I felt Bates was more a symbol of that rather than a character.

          For me, Bronson didn’t have enough of a point to rationalize me watching it.

          • Sir Phobos says:

            Yea, American Psycho is totally satire.

            In the case of Chopper, it’s just a tale of a dude who’s not like the rest of us. I found there to be enough character work in the film for it to be worthwhile, and there’s also some awesome footage in the bonus features of the real Chopper and Eric Bana having a conversation.

            Anyways, I’m sure there are plenty of movies I can’t find a reason to watch or at least like after they’re over.

  5. Pingback: Man, I Love Films – Movie of the Month/LAMBcast #88: Bronson

  6. CMrok93 says:

    I didn’t really like this one as much as many others did either. I liked the style and Hardy’s kick-ass performance, but nothing else really happened here that kept me interested. Nice review.

  7. 3guys1movie says:

    My least favorite Refn film, I just couldn’t get into this one. I actually fell asleep and had to go back and finish watching it.

    • Overall i haven’t gotten into Refn like a lot of other bloggers. Valhalla Rising for me was uneven, although i think overall that was better than Bronson. Hopefully whenever i am able to watch Drive i will finally be impressed like so many others

  8. Alexander says:

    Just watched this today and I too was left with nothing. The story moves in time and place, but that’s about it. It’s just him beating people up in different settings, most of them being prisons. There is no theme or any type of meaning to take away. The violence isn’t even worth it because 1) it’s not exciting and 2) he actually rarely wins his fights.
    My only possible stab at this film is that on a very simple level, it’s a story about aggression/brutality, but if so, that didn’t come across very clearly.

    • Indeed. Maybe there was a message in it, but if it was either it wasn’t communicated clearly like you said or the message wasn’t good enough to justify it.

      • sophie says:

        i watched it the other day. I felt like it was a movie about a man taking advantage of masculinity and also a man in search of himself, but always failing to find it. He is always displaying a number of different personas, e,g the autobiographical acting on stage where he merges into different people, the soft ‘in love’ man with the girl who gets engaged to another man , the violent man in prison and also the childish man when he goes home to his parents and asks in a childish tone where his bed is. He doesn’t know what he wants, this is evident when he is in his cell with the librarian and the warden asks him what he wants over the phone, he panics and hangs up. It could also be about a man that is never able to grow up, he is always resulting in violence when he’s frustrated and expresses his emotions through paintings of disfigured people in his head. Although we want to hate the man, the film is cunning in the way that we can’t help but sympathise with him , e.g. when his girlfriend breaks his heart, when he kills the paedophile at the asylum and how he has a soft spot for his mother. These human characteristics of a man encourage us to relate to him in some way, which makes him all the more disturbing and hard to understand?

  9. Pingback: The Large Association of Movie Blogs | Movie of the Month/LAMBcast #88: Bronson

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