Edwin Boyd: Citizen Gangster carries a convincing mix of mania and sadness
Starring Scott Speedman, Kevin Durand, and Brian Cox. Rated PG.
To live a life of quiet desperation or to rob banks? Hmm, if more of us quietly desperate chickenshits were like Edwin Alonzo Boyd, our financial institutions would be one big heist fest and we’d all be toasting laundered bills in our ovens. Instead, low-key charismatic biopic Edwin Boyd: Citizen Gangster shows us what we’re missing by not brandishing our Lugers while dancing atop bank counters like Canadian versions of Clyde Barrow. I’m considering a career change this minute.
It sucks when you don’t get to be a movie star. Around 1950, Second World War vet Eddie (Scott Speedman) yearned to go Hollywood but had to get real instead and drive a Toronto bus to support his Brit wife, Doreen (Kelly Reilly), and two kiddies. One day he smeared on some greasepaint, held up a bank, and got himself an awesome starring role. Oh, plus the flashbulbs, notoriety, and actual groupies to go with it.
We’ve seen our share of period gangster flicks—bank jobs, shootouts, tense arguments, rinse and repeat—and first-time feature writer-director Nathan Morlando has too. But Scott Speedman, like Edward Norton lite, carries a sweet, convincing mix of mania and sadness as the pretty-boy bandit flirting with bank tellers. Eddie meets other stickup artists in the slammer (they become the Boyd Gang), and Kevin Durand, playing hard-core criminal Lenny Jackson, is a handy, persuasive screenmate. And it never hurts to have a pro like Brian Cox around, empathetic and weary as Eddie’s retired-cop dad, either.
Citizen Gangster sure doesn’t feel or look like a first feature. Not only is Morlando actor-savvy but he’s made a beautifully colour-leached, wintry terrain for them in which to roam. It’s also pitiless terrain for a war-wounded soul like celebrity crook Eddie. As he says: “I’m not crazy. The world is crazy. I’m just its mirror.”
Watch the trailer for Edwin Boyd: Citizen Gangster.