“Papillon” is a French time period which means “Charlie Hunnam’s unchanging beard.”
OK, not likely. However on this new adaptation of Henri Charrière’s 1969 autobiography about his imprisonment in French Guiana — made right into a 1973 movie with Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman — the story is far much less gripping than the consistency of the hunky lead actor’s facial hair. For many of the two hours or so, the beard is good. Frozen in time.
If I bumped into Hunnam on the Plaza lodge, I’d imply that as a praise. However in a film a few man’s 14-year descent into hell, by which he perseveres via unfathomable bodily and emotional misery, unfettered magnificence is not a great look. At instances, “Papillon” is so smooth-sailing, it could as nicely happen at a Membership Med.
The film begins in 1930s Paris, when Papillon, a debonair partier and safecracker, is framed for homicide. So he’s despatched off on a transatlantic voyage aboard a steamship filled with prisoners to a South American labor camp. There he turns into friends with a forger named Louis Dega, performed by Rami Malek with a mountain of verbal tics. They usually plan their escape.
But it surely seems crusing away to freedom is tougher than it seems to be. The pair’s makes an attempt are thwarted by rifle-wielding guards, in sequences missing suspense, and their ensuing punishments turn out to be an increasing number of extreme. After about 90 minutes of grueling torment, Hunnam lastly begins exhibiting some put on and tear. However he nonetheless seems to be like he simply left his facialist.
The actor’s efficiency, alternatively, is much less enticing. Hunnam is succesful, however he’s additionally like a Frigidaire: steely and chilly. Charrière’s story captured the hearts and minds of France. Hunnam simply barely captures our consideration. He’s actually no McQueen, who didn’t strut round like a Ford mannequin.
Director Michael Noer’s sprawling film improves within the remaining third, when Papillon faces the worst circumstances of his incarceration, and at last one thing takes a psychological toll on this man who, up until now, has shrugged at torture. However the movie is largely sedate, with out pressure and with too a lot smolder.