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Mr Nice

  • Film
  • 3 out of 5 stars

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars
Bernard Rose’s career has included urban horror (‘Candyman’), historical biopic (‘Immortal Beloved’) and Hollywood satire (‘Ivansxtc’). Perhaps the eclecticism of Howard Marks’s life appealed: the UK’s most notorious fugitive dope smuggler-turned-counterculture mascot has transgressed legal, territorial, social and ethical boundaries for decades. Even so, this adaptation of Marks’s autobiography – a student staple throughout the land – struggles to capture the sheer breadth of his life.

From the Welsh Valleys to Oxford’s spires, European autobahns to Afghan poppy fields, MI6 contacts to IRA comrades – Rose’s script can’t be accused of staying put, even if it leaves out the East End gangsters and Filipino brothels of the book. And you can understand why he opts to make his hero the eye of this storm, eschewing Marks’s series of aliases for a more consistent persona. But Rhys Ifans’s performance is perhaps too consistent: whether playing young or middle aged, he maintains a lopsided, mischievous ease.

Rather than riotous picaresque, the result is more like a meandering shaggy dog story. Rose’s gimmicks have limited success: Marks’s pre-dope life is in black and white, and he’s often interpolated, Forrest Gump style, into archive. Any gains in authenticity, however, are countered by the technique’s often lacklustre execution. There’s diverting support from David Thewlis, who gives IRA captain and Marks accomplice Jim McCann a sense of knockabout danger; Chloe Sevigny, like most biopic WAGs, has little to do but fret as Howard’s partner, and does so in a dodgy English accent.
Written by Ben Walters

Release Details

  • Rated:18
  • Release date:Friday 8 October 2010
  • Duration:121 mins

Cast and crew

  • Director:Bernard Rose
  • Cast:
    • Rhys Ifans
    • Chloë Sevigny
    • David Thewlis
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