The Gentlemen is absolutely the most entertaining and satisfying movie I have seen in recent memory. I was not sure what to expect going in, gangster movies these days all seem to be focused on some deep sense of tragedy or moral sermon, and Guy Ritchie’s more recent films had steered away from his unique roller coaster style towards something I find much more boring. However, by the end of the film, I was wrapped up in its’ story and passionately cheering its’ protagonists towards victory. Without spoiling the film, as I think any and all reading should see it for themselves, I break down the nature of the characters and conflict within The Gentlemen and why they make the film great.
The characters of The Gentlemen all project their own unique sense of power while simultaneously registering to the viewer as deeply human. Importantly, the audience is able to connect with the characters without being exposed to some deep philosophical flaw within both parties. Mickey Pearson is likable because he sits in an extraordinary position as a powerful marijuana king pin, but now seeks something ordinary for himself, a way to sell his business and secure a quiet future for himself. The former gives him an exciting and exotic feel, while the latter lends itself to a sense of understanding and realism for the viewer. The character arc for the antagonist Dry Eye supplies these elements as well, only in a bit of a reversal. Dry Eye starts the story serving under his Uncle, Lord George, a humbling experience for him that most viewers can identify with. As the film progresses Dry Eye pursues an increasingly aggressive strategy that fuels the stories drama and pulls the viewer into the surreal. The motivation and action of all characters in the film strikes this effective balance between the reasonable and fantastical, allowing the film to be deeply thrilling without straying too far into ridiculousness.
The implications of the conflict, or maybe better put conflicts, throughout the film subtly move between simple personal matters and preferences, to large scale impacts on our world at large. Mickey Pearson has developed intimate relationships with his entire social and business network, most notably his wife Rosalind and his right hand man Ray. Often plot points are resolved simply on the basis of these person to person exchanges, giving the viewer a sense that it is these little details that allowed Mickey to build his empire. Meanwhile, Mickey’s position within the larger world is explored, including connections to the worldwide press, rival gangs, and the British aristocracy. This supplies the story with a sense of grandness by implying that the decisions made within Mickey’s tight world will have resounding effects and even tricks the viewer into thinking that they themselves have a stake in the events.
The tone of The Gentlemen often reaches silliness or absurdity, but it also has important moments of seriousness and intensity. This dichotomy makes the film unpredictable and exciting in a way that few others are. I recommend it highly and hope that other artists attempt to replicate or expand on its’ style.