TIFF 2015: Black Mass Review

Special Presentations

Black Mass is a film about contradictions, about how a man who can help an old lady with her groceries can also strangle a woman to death. It’s about a gangster that showed no tolerance for rats, yet collaborated freely with the FBI. The story of James “Whitey” Bulger embodies those contractions, and in turn Scott Cooper’s film does a valiant job at presenting them with their complications intact.

Much of the film relies upon its key protagonist to be both charismatic and deadly, and Johnny Depp manages this well by delivering one of his best performances in years.  Joined by a strong supporting cast, the film feels less like an aggrandisement of the criminal life and more an indictment of Whitey’s sociopathy.

While it’s admirable, the film doesn’t quite connect the way it should, hewing perhaps too closely to specific events rather than giving a slightly more nuanced, poetic take on his world. Still, it’s a film of both ambition and skill, likely Cooper’s best, with some terrific moments worth celebrating.



MON SEP 14 9:00 PM @ Elgin/​Winter Garden Theatres Visa Screening Room (Elgin)
TUE SEP 15 2:45 PM @ Princess of Wales
FRI SEP 18 10:00 PM @ Princess of Wales

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Dork Shelf's TIFF 2015 Guide

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