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Check out various snippets below from a variety of reviews of Papillon after it’s debut at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival. Admittedly they don’t fair so well with some critics but still worth checking out.
Variety: In almost every respect, Danish director Michael Noer’s remake — which as “inspired by true events” credits equally real-life protagonist Henri Charrière’s memoirs and the earlier screenplay as sources — is a humbler enterprise, although still ambitious and impressive enough. New stars Charlie Hunnam and Rami Malek are neither burdened nor burnished by already-iconic star status; this brisker telling is less pretentious if also less distinctive as large-scale filmmaking. In the end, what matters most is that the principally unchanged story of survival in colonial French Guiana remains a compelling one, no less when played as a relatively straightforward action-suspense saga rather than as a gargantuan allegory about the Indomitable Human Spirit.[…]
Nonetheless, Hunnam (though better in his other 2017 historical epic, “Lost City of Z”) is impressive, particularly during the physical deterioration of the long isolation setpiece. Malek is solid, but Dega could have used more slyness or some other distinguishing characteristic.
Hollywood Reporter: At best, Hunnam and Malek showcase their intense physical dedication, while generating a few chuckles amid all the hardship. They don’t really have the allure of McQueen and Hoffmann on screen — who ever could? — yet they’re an enjoyable combo in a movie that, despite a two-hour-plus running time, ultimately feels way more rushed than mastered (including a considerable amount of dubbing) and never recreates the harrowing experience of either the original or of the colonies in general. […]
The Film Stage: It seems like such a small alteration and yet it speaks volumes for Noer and Guzikowski as storytellers. They change who says certain lines, shift motivations, and oftentimes streamline ordeals that came across as overly convoluted in the original. Those endeavors that took multiple starts and stops to either succeed or fail in Schaffner’s version have all the bloat cut out so the emotion (elation or sorrow) can shine above this notion of “heroics.” This is the difference between a 1970s Hollywood vehicle starring Steve McQueen as a badass adonis and a 2017 cinematic landscape able to embrace nuance and compassion despite the testosterone flowing onscreen with a virtually all-male cast. Empathy without a gruff “I would kill you myself” is no longer taboo. It’s a sign of strength.[…]
Hunnam lends a welcome tinge of wry sarcastic humor to the performance—as he’s known to do—that endears him to us so he can be seen as more than a cliché.
You can dance around it, or you can be Charlie Hunnam and just come out and say it: His King Arthur movie this spring was not a win.
Hunnam doesn’t read reviews, but “I couldn’t be in the center of that thing and not be aware it was going horribly wrong,” the star says Friday, a day after debuting his new film, Papillon, at the Toronto International Film Festival.
Today he’s tucked into a corner of the Ritz-Carlton hotel, cap on, black bomber jacket zipped up to the neck. The candid 37-year-old says when it came to selling the Guy Ritchie film, “I was going to be a pro, and I was grateful for it and liked everyone that was involved. But I had some pretty big reservations about the end result. It didn’t reflect the movie that I thought we were making.”
The $175 million King Arthur carried hopes of becoming a franchise-starter, but stopped cold after earning a tepid $39 million at the box office.
After the dust settled, “I had a week when I wasn’t feeling very happy,” he admits. “I had allowed myself to get seduced by the scope of it and the potential upside of that financial scope for what I could then parlay into creatively (producing and writing). That was the bummer for me.”
Now Hunnam is back on his feet in Toronto with Papillon, a remake of the 1973 film which starred Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman. Hunnam lost over 40 pounds to take on McQueen’s role of a thief shipped off from France for a life sentence in a primitive prison camp in colonial French Guiana.
At the festival, Variety noted Papillon’s “somewhat self-conscious gravity has aged well.” Though less enthused, The Hollywood Reporter said Hunnam and co-star Rami Malek “prove to be an entertaining duo” playing begrudging inmates who begrudgingly bond behind bars.
The Brit, who ate next to nothing for Lost City of Z prior to shooting Papillon, put himself into solitary confinement for eight days during the shooting without food or water. (The real Henri Charriere, the real-life subject of the tale, was in solitary confinement in the South American camp for two years.)
Hunnam hopes the historical tale of inhumane treatment opens dialogue about the state of the current American prison system.
Inside the modern prison system, “it is exactly the same, really, in conditions and everything,” he says. “I’ve spent a lot of time visiting prisons in the U.S. and it is shocking.”
What will Hunnam do next? Three weeks ago, his Netflix film Triple Frontier fell apart after Ben Affleck pulled out to focus on his wellness and family, followed by other contenders including Mark Wahlberg, Mahershala Ali and Chadwick Boseman. So he’s taking six months off.
“I’m going to hang with my girl, I’m going to write the two screenplays I want to write,” says Hunnam. “I’m going to do some therapy, think a lot about the future and just recalibrate.”
Right now, he’s writing madly, “six days a week, usually 15 hours a day,” he says. “I write like it’s my obsession and I’m so happy.”
The former Sons of Anarchy star might even forgo acting in the future.
“I don’t know if I feel like I’ve got the chops to get to the destination of putting in Daniel Day-Lewis-caliber performances. Maybe. Maybe not,” says Hunnam. “But I’m certainly a long way from it. And I don’t enjoy the process. I (expletive) love writing. Maybe I’ll just become a writer-producer. I’m really, really seriously considering that.”
It seems Charlie Hunnam is angling to join Christian Bale and (the newly retired?) Daniel Day Lewis in the ranks of handsome British leading men who are known for suffering through absurdly unpleasant conditions for their craft. Shortly after the horror that was filming Lost City of Z (in which a beetle burrowed into his ear in the Amazon) the actor started shooting Papillon, which tells the true story of Henri Charrière, who suffered in and repeatedly escaped from a French Guiana prison dubbed “Devil’s Island” in the 1930s. Sounds pleasant.
While the prison break story has already been brought to the big screen in 1973 starring Steve McQueen as Charrière and Dustin Hoffman as a fellow convict who aids in his escape, this rendition (which costars Rami Malek in Hoffman’s role) presents a more brutally honest depiction of the horrid conditions these inmates faced. Never one to phone it in via green screen, Hunnam went to extremes for the role.
As Hunnam explained to W today, while promoting Papillon at the Toronto International Film Festival:
“The last sequence in the film is a 20-minute sequence in solitary [confinement] and by the point I was shooting that at the end of the film, my mind and body and f—ing will to live had all really shut down. I just stayed in that cell for eight days and I never ate and I didn’t drink any water… I just chain-smoked cigarettes for eight days. By the time I got out of there, I really felt like I’d lost connection to reality a little bit. I couldn’t go home to see my girlfriend, I had to go to England for a week to get my shit together. I thought, if I show up now after not seeing my girlfriend for four months, she’s going to be like, ‘Dude.’”
To make matters worse, the actor’s recent roles have him on a yo-yo diet from hell. “It’s been really unpleasant, these last two films,” he said. “I’m naturally 180 and I got down to 145 for both films. I lost the weight easy for Lost City of Z, but then I had to do it for Papillon, like, eight months later and my body went into total f—ing crisis.”
Unsurprisingly, Hunnam, while sipping a green juice, swore he’s not going to “do that again to myself for a while.” Although, his next film Triple Frontier, directed by J.C. Chandor for Netflix, is described as “a thriller set in the notorious border zone between Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil where the Iguazu and Parana rivers converge.” Hmm.
Meanwhile, if you need to get out of prison, Hunnam is your man. Just don’t expect him to stage an elaborate breakout. “I had to get my pal out of jail this week, so I am actually pretty nifty when people get arrested,” he said. “I’ve bailed many of my friends out of prison.”
Charlie Hunnam kicks off day one of TIFF with “Papillon”, telling ET Canada he loves spending time in Toronto with the city’s cinemagoers who he hopes will see his latest film as more than just a remake of the original 1973 movie with Dustin Hoffman and Steve McQueen.
Remaking a classic like “Papillon” certainly doesn’t sound like the wisest idea on paper. The iconic 1973 film starring Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman is all-timer, which makes you wonder at the hubris of trying to create lightning in a bottle twice. But we’ll find out at the Toronto International Film Festival is this redo is folly or not.
Charlie Hunnam and “Mr. Robot” star Rami Malek take the lead roles in this version, which has a script from “Prisoners” writer Aaron Guzikowski, and Danish director Michael Noer (“R“) behind the camera. Apparently, this will be a contemporary take on the based-on-a-true-story thriller about a man unjustly convicted of murder who enlists the help of a counterfeiter to break him out of a South American jail. Hunnam will be taking the McQueen role, with Malek in Hoffman’s shoes.
TIFF runs from September 7-17.
EXCLUSIVE: The JC Chandor-directed thriller Triple Frontier has regained its footing at Netflix for a potential August production start. Mark Wahlberg is now in talks to replace Ben Affleck, who dropped out last week. The film will shoot in Hawaii and Colombia and will star Sons of Anarchy‘s Charlie Hunnam, Mudbound‘s Garrett Hedlund and Pedro Pascal, coming off Game of Thrones and Narcos. Wahlberg is coming off Transformers: The Last Knight. Still in the mix is Adria Arjona, who has been attached right along.
This last–minute activity is just part and parcel of the resilience this film has shown. Triple Frontier was a go at Paramount but hit the rocks when lead actors Tom Hardy and Channing Tatum dropped out over creative differences, weeks before the start of production. That, a $70 million price tag and the fact the studio was going through a regime change with the exit of the late Brad Grey (who championed the project), prompted Paramount to put the film into turnaround. Deadline revealed this implosion on April 12, and then on May 1 revealed that Netflix was pursuing the picture along with other suitors, with Affleck and his Oscar-winning brother Casey courted. The elder Affleck was ready to go but decided to take a break to focus on his health and family. Incoming Netflix feature film head Atlas producers Charles Roven and Alex Gartner kept the fires stoked, and now they have pulled off a rarity: saving a project that seemed in grave danger of flatlining.
Scott Stuber has been tasked with assembling a star-driven slate that could reach 40-50 annual films in total, and Triple Frontier gets added to a growing film roster that recently included the deal that reteams Nightcrawler writer-director Dan Gilroy with Jake Gyllenhaal and Rene Russo for an untitled film set in the art world, and Highwaymen, the John Lee Hancock-directed film put in turnaround at Universal about the Texas Rangers who hunted down and killed bank robbers Bonnie and Clyde, with Kevin Costner and Woody Harrelson starring.
Originally written by Mark Boal with a rewrite by Chandor, Triple Frontier is a thriller set in the notorious border zone between Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil where the Iguazu and Parana rivers converge. This is a film that Katherine Bigelow once planned to direct, and which at one time Tom Hanks and Will Smith and Johnny Depp circled, so it has always had its fans.