Drama based on the autobiography of Howard Marks (Rhys Ifans). Dennis Howard Marks was born in Kenfig Hill, near Bridgend, Glamorgan, Wales in the 1940′s, after attending the local Grammar School he went to Balliol College, Oxford. After a shot spell as a teacher, he found his true vocation, cannabis-trafficking!
Aided by a script based on an autobiography and the fantastic casting of Ifans (who is a fan and friend of Marks) the story is very sympathetic to the drug smuggler. From a moral point of view I will let people make their own mind up on the severity of cannabis supply and use. Without the horrors associated with so called hard drugs there is no shocking overdose scene keeping the movie lighter than the usual drug story. Director Bernard Rose has proved his ability to balance gravity with comic moments in the Beethoven biography Immortal Beloved, he also directed the superior horror movies Candyman and Paperhouse. Less successful is the use of old stock footage that Ifans is digitally inserted into, the effect is somewhat bizarre and poorly executed making it very conspicuous. I can only assume with the modern technology available to the filmmakers this effect is intentional and not just sloppy, I don’t see the point of it.
As well as Rhys Ifans in the title role the cast is very impressive with Chlöe Sevigny as Marks’ wife Judy, she is as reliable as ever but does struggle a little with her English accent at times. David Thewlis is brilliant as Jim McCann, an IRA bomber maker who Marks gets involved with. Christian McKay who impressed last year as Orson Welles in Me and Orson Wells has a small but significant part that he makes the most of. Also look out for recognisable faces like Omid Djalili (who, as you would expect gets a lot of the laughs) and Crispin Glover.
A film that is happy to tell the story of Marks without asking or attempting to answer any questions about his chosen lifestyle and career. As such it is successful making an enjoyable film that is sometimes informative, often funny and always entertaining.
Three Stars out of Five