BFI London Film Festival 2021 review
The more they fall, 2021.
Directed by Jeymes Samuel.
With Jonathan Majors, Zazie Beetz, Idris Elba, Regina King, LaKeith Stanfield, Edi Gathegi, Delroy Lindo, RJ Cyler, Danielle Deadwyler and Deon Cole.
When an outlaw finds out that an enemy who has wronged him in the past is released from prison, he reunites his gang for revenge.
Every now and then a movie walks around town to remind you why you fell in love with these magical moving images. Jeymes Samuel The more they fall is one of those movies. An exceptional revisionist western, and I can’t stress it enough, that pulls out of the holster with a style and execution that heralds the arrival of a new Most Wanted movie.
It’s an African American tale as old as them on the hills, but very rarely told, with gangs, guns, saloons, and double crosses ticking all of the genre’s bingo boxes, but featuring a set characters that haven’t really been given this kind of representation in the genre for almost twenty years (think Mario Van Peebles Detachment), that everything seems timely and invigorating freshness. As the opening title screen tells us, this story may be fictional, but people are not.
It’s probably worth starting with those who play the people in question, as each actor in this lineup brings their A-game to Samuel’s shootout. Idris Elba hasn’t been so subtly terrifying since his days as Stringer Bell, Delroy Lindo is worthy of the nomination he should have received for Da 5 bloods, while Regina King relishes the chance to chew up the scenery and look stylish as hell while doing so. Edi Gathegi, RJ Cyler, Danielle Deadwyler, the list of terrific performances is longer than their lists of character crimes.
The beating heart of this revenge story is Jonathan Majors, delivering here another demo performance that ranges from the classic heroism of your Western protagonist to the kind of vulnerability you wouldn’t have seen in any of his genre ancestors. That sort of stoic tenacity is reserved for Zazie Beetz’s frontier entrepreneur, whose development throughout the film is arguably the most interesting of the set, especially the thrilling way his arc is resolved. But it’s LaKeith Stanfield’s eloquent outlaw who completely steals the bounty with one of the most charming and spellbinding performances of the year.
However, if The more they fall must be praised for one thing above all, then it’s the amazing direction of Jeymes Samuel, who frames the film in such a way that it merges the recognizable signifiers of the genre with its own awe-inspiring style, resulting in a film that stands out. feels very unique. There are wonderful visuals on display, such as a shadow cast overhead between the outlaws, or the bravery dolly that travels the street between Elba and Majors, which is both reminiscent of those famous spaghetti fights. western, while simultaneously working full-fledged. Such techniques are also used sparingly, so that he never gets tired or feels too swayed by his influences.
The same approach is taken with the superb score, which mixes the heavy sounds of the woods and guitar of the Wild West with a modern sensibility. This isn’t as shocking as it sounds, probably because Samuel also has a singer-songwriter career under the pseudonym Bullitts, cut his teeth working in the music department on the likes of Baz Luhrmann Gatsby the magnificent, and has Jay-Z as one of the producers of the film. With that sort of track record, it’s no surprise that the incredible music compliments creativity and on-screen performance, while guaranteed to be repeated for all discerning moviegoers over the next few weeks.
With all of these awesome components working in harmony like the internal mechanics of one of Idris Elba’s gold-plated revolvers, The more they fall is a lean, brutal, and gorgeous blow to the head of the Western genre.
Evaluating the Flickering Myth – Movie ★★★★★ / Movie ★★★★★
Matt Rodgers – Follow me on Twitter @mainstreammatt