LONG WEEKEND MOVIES: Edwin Boyd: Citizen Gangster @ TIFF Bell Lightbox

This long weekend might have the nicest weather Toronto has seen so far this year, but I’m not much of an outdoorsy type.  On the other hand, there are three movies screening right now that I really wanna see–two of which are limited engagements.  And hey, unlike my apartment, most movie theatres in this city have air conditioning…

Edwin Boyd was Toronto’s first big-time bank robber, operating in the late 40’s and early 50’s.  After serving in World War II, he had trouble making ends meet when he got back home, and turned to stickups to make some quick cash.  He and his gang managed to escape from the Don Jail not once but twice, and their notoriety put them on par with Bonnie and Clyde–north of the 49th parallel, anyways.

While the script does play a little loose with the facts (supersleuth Detective Rhys was purely fictional, for one thing), it also attempts to humanize the notorious gangster, portraying him as a family man, a Robin Hood of sorts, who steals to provide for his wife and kids.  Compared to the shoot-‘em-up, car-chase drama of the ’67 classic Bonnie and Clyde, this relatively low-budget film is fairly tame by comparison, more of a character study than a summer blockbuster.

Scott Speedman, 15 years removed from the Canadian cult classic Kitchen Party (he’s also appeared in Underworld and the TV series “Felicity”), puts in a solid performance in the leading role, his moustache reminding me of Sean Penn.  He was nominated for a Genie, in fact, along with supporting actors Kevin Durand and Charlotte Sullivan–though none of them took home the hardware.  There was plenty of chemistry between him and Kelly Reilly, the fiery redhead of Sherlock Holmes fame who plays his wife, Doreen, as she struggles to come to grips with his new career.  We also get a good look at the dysfunctional love lives/family lives of Boyd’s henchmen, Lenny Jackson (played by Durand), Willie Jackson and Val Kozak (the on-screen version of real-life gang-member Steve Suchan).  Like I said before, this is a character film, not a high-powered action flick.  It just so happens that these characters rob banks.

Then again, as far as action is concerned, there is a pretty grisly execution scene captured on film.  They still hung people back in those days, after all…

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