Saturday, December 6, 2014

Peaky Blinders (TV Series) (Series- 1&2 )

Creator: Steven Knight
Cast:      Cillian Murphy, Helen McCrory, Paul Anderson, Sam Neill, Tom Hardy, Annabelle Wallis


A gangster family epic set in 1919 Birmingham, England and centered on a gang who sew razor blades in the peaks of their caps, and their fierce boss Tommy Shelby (Cillian Murphy), who means to move up the world. At the face of it, it is an age old story that has been done to death in numerous mob films but I guess the setting of post World War One England and the stylized way it is shot (brutal with some great soundtrack) makes it quite unique. I haven't seen Boardwalk Empire, save for the first episode, and that would be the one with which it is going to get compared. For me, am quite sick of American mob stories and this British one makes for a very welcome change.

The Peaky Blinders are a bunch of Brummie brothers who are all suffering from PTSD after WW1. We are reminded so many times in the series that they were in fucking France in case you forgot. The times are interesting in Britain with the kingdom declaring war on  many enemies within itself-the communists, the Irish who are looking for independence and normal garden variety gangster kind. The gangster activity they are mainly running is illegal gambling activities along with their protection business. The series one involves them getting foothold in Birmingham and the second one have them entering London. First series was built up with bit more subtlety compared to second. But it was a lot more sure about its identity in the second series as I sat there smiling enjoying the sometimes cartoonish but always stylistic portrayal. The use of contemporary soundtrack like the ones from Arctic Monkeys can be quite risky in a period drama like this, but I enjoyed it. We have seen that recently in 'Django Unchained' and 'The Great Gatsby' and I don't mind the anachronism. If you are indeed going for stylishness, then why not? 

They managed to get Tom Hardy play a Jewish mobster/baker in the second series and he is great. He had starred recently in Steven Knight's feature film 'Locke' which was also excellent. The scene in last episode of  the series where Tom Hardy and Cillian Murphy are doing an unconventional negotiation was particularly great. Another highlight of the season was:'Read Daily Mail, it will broaden your mind'. Even I got that joke, probably because of me being obsessed with LFC. Peaky Blinders was produced by BBC and in US it was distributed through Netflix. Series 3 has been commissioned and I think the British TV practice of having just 6 episodes every year is just about right since it is better to be left wanting more. The name Peaky Blinders is derived from a historic subculture that was there during those times and not necessarily from a single gangster group. The opening credits song Nick Cave's 'Red Right Hand' is also excellent giving a True Detective vibe to it.

Rating: 4/5