The release of a new movie starring Johnny Depp used to be a bit of an event for cinema-goers; since the global success of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, the actor we knew for unbelievable transformations relaxed and began to play himself, again and again – just like Al Pacino, on a smaller scale.
You only have to look at Black Mass’ poster to see how Depp has finally rediscovered his talent for acting: he is nearly unrecognisable.
Between the 70s and the 90s, Whitey Bulger (Johnny Depp) rose from local scumbag to Boston’s most famous and controversial mob leader. Brother to a US Senator (Benedict Cumberbatch) and childhood friend of a rising FBI agent (Joel Edgerton), Bulger helped the government defeat the Italian mafia. But every deal necessitates a payback, and the FBI – with the shady support of his inside friend – promised to ignore his illegal activities.
The controversy behind this ruthless mobster is that, as a good Irish descendant, he took care of his neighbourhood, Southie (South Boston). He would literally help old ladies with their groceries, and minutes later he would choke a friend’s girlfriend to death just to make a point.
While director Scoot Cooper was casting for non-professional actors to cover key roles in the Irish community, he tried to hire an old lady for the character of Bulger’s mother, who kept refusing it because “Bulger was always nice with me”.
Black Mass accurately recreates the Boston of the 70s with CGI-corrected aerial views and opaque, grainy cinematography; however, Depp’s transformation is the film’s most impressive feature, with grey hair and chilling blue eyes achieved through hand-painted contacts.
It’s a gangster movie with great actors – Peter Sarsgaard’s magnificent five minutes of acting would be worth the ticket alone – and it could possibly be Depp’s return to form after a few relaxed years.
Filippo L’Astorina, the Editor
Black Mass is released nationwide on 27th November 2015.
Read more of our reviews and interviews from the festival here.
For further information about Venice Film Festival 2015 visit here.
Watch the trailer for Black Mass here: