Film Review: Film Review Snatch

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Snatch Film Analysis

Employing a large cast of characters and complex set of subplots, director Guy Ritchie's film, Snatch (2000), is an intriguingly fun and meaningful satiric English comedy. In the likeness of great English satiric literature, such as Gulliver's Travels (Swift and Turner, 1998); this film begins simple enough with a diamond heist. The simplicity is a good foundation for this satire to build on. A simple diamond heist pulled off without a hitch, and employing serious violence, which belies the true nature of the film, but which invests the crime action audience in the action. The violence of the opening scenes will soon become synonymous with the film's satiric tone. The violence becomes comedic rather than serious, deviating from the dramatic crime promise that drew that audience in the opening scenes. By the time the audience is aware of the switch from drama to satiric comedy, their attention has become fixed on what proves to be great entertainment poking fun at the way in which the crime element tends to posture itself, especially amongst one another and resembling fanning peacocks.

Casting

While the film's director is normally responsible for the nod in casting a major role or a big name actor, like Brad Pitt as the gypsy Mickey O'Neill in this film; the many small spoken lines and extras are the work of the casting director; in this film the casting director was Lucinda Syson, who has a long and successful career in her work as a casting director (IMDB, 2008, found online at: (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0208092/fullcredits#cast).

In Snatch, casting involved matching the right acting personalities to the personalities of the film's many supporting characters. There were many small roles, but no small characters.

Casting, it might be argued, is as key to the success of a film as is the screenplay, directing, cinematography, and the many other industry disciplines that go into making a film. The small but significant roles in this film were the extras, non-speaking roles, in the office where the diamond heist occurred. One of the office staff is used as the beating bag for the lead thief, Frankie Four Fingers, to get the diamond merchant to give up the 84 carat stone. Or the woman behind the counter at the bookie's shop, who steals the scene when she takes the machine gun from the thugs hired to get the stone from Frankie Four Fingers; and she lays down a cautionary round causing the thugs to drop to the floor then quickly drops the security windows without losing more than spare change to the thugs.

The major character roles were also cast in a way that ensured this film's success. The jewel thieves are a likely group whose leader, actor Benecio del Toro as Franky Four Fingers, has a gambling habit that is known to one of his cohorts who sets him up after the heist. It is at this point that the satirical flavor of the film kicks in, and the viewer is introduced to the large cast of characters: Boris the Blade (his brother is the thief who sets up Franky), played by Rade Serbedzija, who is out to steal the 84-86 carat diamond that was stolen in the heist; Doug the Head, described as the "wannabe" Jew, who lives in London, owns a jewelry shop and has twin daughters played by Teena and Nikki Collins, and who, in their brief role, contribute to the comedic tempo in a large way.

Key to the character success of the film is the brilliant casting choice of Alan Ford as the ultimate bad man, Brick Top. Brick Top is the man who rules the roost - or the pig pen - so to speak. He is a brutal, hard talking, hard hitting mobster who fixes fights, feeds his enemies to pigs, and has no kind words for anyone. The character's dialogue is fast flowing, biting, and foul and Ford's delivery is seamless and reflects the seasoned thespian that he is (IMDB, 2008, found online).

Vinny Jones, as Bullet Tooth Tony, another thug, is not quite so bad to the bone as is Brick Top. However, the added dimensions physicality of the character are much important to the creation of the screen character as is the dialogue. Tony has 2-3 gold teeth, and the film conveys the idea that his nick-name and the teeth are directly related.

Brad Pitt, as Mickeyh O'Neill the gypsy, "Piker," is a character who lives in a caravan gypsy family. He loves his mother, he is a bit of wanderlust looking grub, and is in many ways the stereotypical gypsy character. Unlike Dennis Farina who plays the New York Jewish character of Avi, who actually was the man behind the diamond heist plan. As Avi, the very Italian sounding and appearing Farina, like Pitt and the other characters, is physical satire, poking fun at the stereotypical images. This does not mean that the characters are not good in their roles, because they are, and that contributes to the satirical message of the film characters.

In this satire, casting of all the characters, speaking and non-speaking, supports the satirical theme of making life's serious bad guys look ridiculous. It works with the three thugs hired by Boris the Blade to intercept Franky Four Fingers. In their roles as the hired thugs, Lennie James as Sol, Ade as Tyrone, and Robbie Gee as Vinny defy the stereotypical image of the criminal element; they don't like the sight of blood, they don't know their weapons, and they don't seem like real bad guys, just nice guys that bad things happen to as a result of circumstances and bad choices.

The casting major and minor characters, for this satire is essential to what the director was attempting to do in the film: create a satire on the human criminal elements. With the visual to character physicality, he was successful. The physical characters supported their character role, and when the character became the product of satirical comedy, it worked successfully for this film.

Screenplay Dialogue

Like the physicality of the actors cast, the dialogue contributes to this satirical comedy in a most entertaining way, busting myths and stereotypes as it moves along through the subplots and plot. The dialogue is cleverly written, and it goes far in myth busting and extreme stereotyping. Many of the scenes are setup in dialogue by Jason Stanton in the lead role as Turkish, who along with his sidekick, partner, Tommy, played by actor Stephen Graham represents the elements of good and truth in the film - such that you have these elements in a criminal environment.

The pair is innocently interjected into much of the crime action in the film, although they are, as far as concerns the diamond heist, unaware of it. Their connection to the heist is that they are put in a bad place by virtue of their line of work: Turkish is a boxing fight promoter who is honest. His fights are never fixed, and in this the film he has been approached by Brick Top who gives Turkish a personal tour of his pig pens where, later, we learn he disposes of his enemies in a way that leaves no remains or trace of them. Brick Top instructs, rather than asks, Turkish to fix a fight so that Brick Top's bookie business will benefit from the fix. Turkish narrates the film, keeping the viewer invested in the plot and helping to setup scenes that would otherwise be too cumbersome for the viewer to try to figure out. Causing the viewer to take too much time to mull over scene plots would lose the viewer, and the narrating is done well and supports the storyline here by helping to build the satire around the events.

For instance, towards the end of the film, the police are at the abandoned gypsy camp where Turkish and Tommy have gone to find Mickey, and as they stand in the abandoned camp which now looks like a dump site, the police appear out of the bushes. The exchange goes this way:

Policeman: What do you know about gypsies?

Turkish: I know they're not to be trusted.

It is an important scene because Turkish has just played to the policeman's stereotypical image of gypsies, successfully severing whatever tie the police might have suspected he and Tommy had to the gypsies, and making the reason for Turkish and Tommy's presence on the site, which Turkish declares is because they're walking the "squeaky dog." The squeaky dog is another character role in the film.

The dialogue is very well written to the characters and, when combined with the character's physicality, works for the satire element of the film. For instance, in all of the scenes involving Brick Top, the character's lines are harsh, threatening, and delivered with a brashness that puts a force behind the threateningly harsh language. It is difficult to know how many takes it took for Guy Ritchie to perfect the… [END OF PREVIEW]

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