Before the holidays (yes, before the holidays... I'm so backlogged on posts!), I needed something to reenergize me and inspire me to finish those exams and papers, and what better than some brummie Birmingham gangsters to rejuvenate your self-motivation.
I had two main reasons for wanting to rewatch Peaky Blinders - one, it's bloody brilliant (and I can confirm that the second watch through is just as, if not more so, bloody brilliant as the first) and two, while in the midst of watching series 4, I realized I did not have a clue what the actual heck was going on (so a rewatch was in order to help my thick self actually understand this complex plot).
Here's what makes Peaky Blinders so brilliant: even if you can't understand a word of what is being said, the pure theater of the production, the utter stunning cinematography, and the spine-chillingly haunting performances is enough to make you fall in love. Because you may not know what's going on, but you do know you're watching something incredible. But, once you wade through those Birmingham accents, and start to actually understand the intricacies of the plot, you can see that it far exceeds anything that was on television at the time (I'm not going to say the plot is still groundbreaking, as I feel the show lost its way after the epic and jaw-dropping second series, but, dang, are those first two series are something incredible).
When you watch Peaky Blinders you feel as if you've entered another world, a world of organized crime, a world of Irish rebels, a world of changing landscapes. It's a world most of us have never been (I don't know about you, but I for one have never been a part of a gang in the English Midlands in 1919), but its a world that is so beautifully crafted and meticulously designed that it feels almost familiar, almost welcoming. Steven Knight and his team have perfectly crafted not only the Shelby family but the entire world of Peaky Blinders. Knight's writing and story, which is set perfectly within the backdrop of a deteriorating Britain, evokes just about every range of emotion one person can experience within 50 minutes. There's never a dull a moment, but there's also never a stimulus overload. Each episode finds the perfect balance of action and drama, intensity and stillness, darkness and lightness. It's like a fine wine - it's just bloody good!
Next on my parade of praise: the cinematography! Honestly, nothing gets me more worked up than those absolutely incredible (and dare I say sexy) slow-motion ass-kicking scenes. I mean, this is why we love film, people! For moments like these where you literally have to replay it again and again because it is just so provocative. I don't know about you, but it gives me life! The entire production of Peaky Blinders, from the camera direction to the editing to the costumes to the bloomin' bedroom sets brings an emotional energy with it. The mis-en-scene (do mind my causal drop of a fancy film term - that's right I study film) created by Knight and his crew of directors is not something often seen in television - and is starting to be lost in films - so to have this amazing atmosphere of intensity and broodiness rejuvenates ones love for the art of cinema.
Then to finish off this incredible piece of artistry, to make it even more perfect, there is this stunning and impeccable cast that brings a beating heart to the entire series. Cillian Murphy is intoxicating - he brings a dark allure to Tommy. He plays the tough gangster well, but its the tragic sadness that truly gives depth and life to this complicated character. Murphy can entertain and excite in Tommy's action moments, but his true strength as an actor shows in the quiet stillness of moments of contemplation and the heartache of a man destroyed by the world around him. Murphy finds himself in great company with his fellow co-stars, particularly Helen McCrory, who unarguably brings a beautiful sadness to the strongest member of the Shelby clan, and Paul Anderson, who captures the erratic neuroticism of mental illness poetically.
Well, if it wasn't clear, I do love me some Peaky Blinders and this post somehow became an ode to its brilliance. But it's a much-deserved ode because there isn't much that can compare to the technical and emotional achievements of this brummie gangsters.
Peaky Blinders (Series 3) | Review
Peaky Blinders (Series 4) | Review
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Toronto International Film Festival 2022
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