My Kingdom (7/10)

 Copyright © 2003 by Tony Medley


My Kingdom is a gritty, hard, grimy look at a crime boss and his family in Liverpool.  It is so far divorced from the glossy Hollywood deification of the mafia, epitomized by the Godfather trilogy, itís hard to compare.  But, hey, thatís what Iím here for.  Iíll try.  Compared with My Kingdom, the Godfather trilogy is a Road Runner cartoon.

 As the movie starts, Sandeman (Richard Harris, in his last role, which should get him a posthumous Oscar nomination) is the biggest and most feared crime lord in Liverpool.  Shortly thereafter his wife, Mandy (Lynn Redgrave), is murdered.  Contrary to what everyone tells him, Sandeman believes it was a hit.  Because of this belief he turns the control of the family business over to his daughters, Tracy (Lorraine Pilkington) and Kath (Louise Lombard), resulting in a cataclysm.  What follows is beyond Sandemanís worst nightmare.  But itís presented in such a way that itís captivating.

 Unlike Hollywoodís glorification of organized crime since the Ď30s, there is nobody really admirable in this film, except for one of Sandemanís three daughters, Jo (Emma Catherwood), and his grandson, Boy (Reece Noi).  The other two daughters are unfeeling sociopaths, as are their spouses, especially Tracyís husband, Jug Singh (Jimi Mistry), who is a disgusting piece of work if ever there was one.  Even the police are corrupt.  This is a dark film.  What happens seems realistic, if not pleasant.  Iíve never been a big fan of Harris, but he achieves the pinnacle as Sandeman.

 Director Don Boyd (who also co-wrote with Nick Davies) has created a classic in the crime film genre.  Director of Photography Dewald Aukema artfully presents an uncompromisingly graphic picture of Liverpool with a keen eye.  The only negative comments I have are that there are a few scenes of graphic violence.  While this isnít a lot, itís a few too many.  Second, some of the Liverpudlian accents used by the actors are so heavy the dialogue is often difficult to understand.

 There arenít any laughs in this film.  But it held my interest throughout its 117-minute running time.  Itís a thoroughly professional, involving story told by someone who knows what heís doing.  Harrisís performance is one for the ages, but the others are also up to his mark.  The film starts today (December 6) for a one week, Oscar-qualifying run in Los Angeles, then closes until February when it opens for good (ergo, this short, quick review).  This is one to see.

 December 6, 2002

 The End