Tuesday, 18 February 2014

EDWIN BOYD: CITIZEN GANGSTER (Nathan Morlando 2011)


AIR RAID SIRENS
NUCLEAR THREAT
CANADA JOINS NATO
... EDWIN BOYD STRIKES THE BANK OF MONTREAL



Inspired by true events, Nathan Morlando's 2011 Crime/Drama CITIZEN GANGSTER (set in Toronto) takes a close look at Canada's most notorious bank robber, Edwin Boyd. Initially a lone wolf, after a stint behind bars he became the leader of the Boyd Gang, which boasts several bank heists, multiple prison escapes, and one murdered cop throughout a short three year period, until their final capture in 1952. The joyride came to a startling end, with half the members being hanged, and the other half being slapped with multiple life sentences. The latter includes Boyd himself, portrayed in the film by Scott Speedman as charismatic, and forgivable. After all, he only served ten years.





While many films tend to exaggerate their relationship to true events, Morlando spent notable time getting to know Ed Boyd, as well as his daughter Carolyn Boyd in the time leading up to Ed's death (2002). So it's safe to say, much time was spent understanding and building the story, and putting this film together. Quoted in the Toronto Star, Morlando states: 

It was very easy for him (Boyd) to turn on the charm, point his finger at the camera and say he had no regrets about bank robbing. But when you got him in a quieter moment . . . I could see in his eyes that there was deep regret and loss and his biggest regret and loss is the loss of his family and his children.

After getting to know Carolyn, Morlando admits that her perspective greatly impacted his script. Over the years it became less of an action film and more of a "tragic love story" (The Star). The film was finally released in 2011 with Carolyn's stamp of approval. And I must say, kudos Morlando. This is a great film. It was honoured with a few Genie nominations, but sadly no wins, losing in two categories to Cronenberg's A DANGEROUS METHOD.

It masterfully creates the tension in the atmosphere by placing emphasis on newspaper headlines, newsreels in the theatre, and radio announcements. Boyd's own obsession with these is shown in relation to his dreams of being a big screen star, which really gives his character a three-dimensionality. We get to see who he is, who he wants to be, and who he becomes. But perhaps what I most enjoyed about the film is that even when leaning towards being a Folk-Hero Tale, it never glamourizes Boyd's crimes. That being said, it also does not make him out to be a monster. Mostly, it presents his story, the good, the bad, and the ugly. So, as the Boyd gang howls drunkenly, Praise the Lord, and Pass the Ammunition, because the ride is a bumpy one - but you won't regret it.




Top Billed Cast:
Scott Speedman
Kelly Reilly
Kevin Durand
Brendan Fletcher
and Joseph Cross (YES! The kid from Jack Frost!)