Saturday, 15 December 2018

Krays roles can only add to Tom’s Legend

REFERRING to someone — anyone — as a “legend” is nearly always a cliché.

REFERRING to someone — anyone — as a “legend” is nearly always a cliché.

On the other hand, it does make for a nice concise film title. Just ask Ridley Scott, who used it 30 years ago for his fantasy adventure starring Tom Cruise and Tim Curry.

Scott might not be too happy to see his title supplanted in popular culture. But what’s he going to do — send the boys round to Brian Helgeland’s gaff for a little chat?

Helgeland, whose work on L.A. Confidential won the 1997 Academy Award for best adapted screenplay, has turned his attention to Sixties London gangland, with a feverishly anticipated adaptation of John Pearson’s Kray twins biography, The Profession of Violence.

Starring Tom Hardy, Legend is the first feature film since 1990’s The Krays to tackle the subject of the terrible twins.

A quarter of a century on, one crucial difference is that both Ronnie (1995, heart attack) and Reggie (2000, cancer) are dead.

Or brown bread, to give them their due — rhyming slang being far from the only cliché to attach itself to the Krays and their dispiriting, depressing and inescapably English story. They may have maimed, looted, stabbed and shot their way to tabloid notoriety and a kind of dark celebrity glamour, courtesy of David Bailey’s iconic photographs, but they were always very good to their dear old mum, didn’t you know?

Only this week one of their former associates, Freddie Foreman, emerged dutifully from the woodwork to assure us that the twins were “polite”.

What’s more, they “never swore in front of women or raised their voices in public”.

That’s a relief, isn’t it readers?

To be fair to Freddie, who is now aged 83, he did vouchsafe the following nugget: both Kray twins were exclusively homosexual, not just Ronnie — something that, if true, helps explain the failure of Reggie’s eight-week marriage to Frances Shea (Emily Browning in the film).

Two years later she was dead, apparently by her own hand.

At a guess, Legend is most likely to be notable for Tom Hardy’s performance in both lead roles — though the word is that the script is superb, a few stray Americanisms aside.

Helgeland originally had Hardy in mind to play Reggie — the “legend” of the title — after seeing him in the acclaimed mixed martial arts drama Warrior (2011).

But on meeting the writer-director, Hardy made it a condition of taking the role that he also got to play Ronnie.

The result is at the Henley Regal Picturehouse from Wednesday (September 9).

Review: Matthew Wilson

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