Writer and Director: Marcus Flemings
The heist movie genre has undergone significant overhaul in recent years with female leads in Oceans 8 and Widows, a political focus for the latter and now a film that looks at the complex backstory for Wyatt spooling back from the moment the heist goes wrong. It doesn’t quite work for director Marcus Flemings who gets too lost in the detail but Blonde. Purple has some interesting ideas.
Trapped in a bank with his 16-year-old hostage, Wyatt starts to panic. His colleague has been shot by the police and Wyatt just wants to get away, but as he builds bridges with Maddison the circumstances that bought them both to the bank that day slowly come into view.
And slow is the word. At more than two hours, Blonde. Purple takes far too long to get where it needs to be and by including so many perspectives in those flashbacks – the parole officer that Wyatt is sleeping with, the gradations within the criminal gang that he works for as well as Maddison’s relationship with her mother among others – it dilutes the energy built up by the heist. Fleming is aiming for Reservoir Dogs but the result feels laboured and about 40-minutes too long.
There is a cartoon violence that does make for a few shocking moments, removing some of the predictability that starting with the ending engenders, but Fleming does get carried away with the style and in delving into each of these scenarios, it takes the film further away rather than closer to its conclusion, focusing more on the scenario than the content of each section and its contribution to audience understanding.
Julian Moore-Cook is suitably scared as Wyatt, revealing his inexperience as he’s drawn into a wider criminal enterprise he cannot control while his connection to Ellie Bindman’s Maddison develops into more than Stockholm syndrome, a chance for them both to rebel. Jennifer Lee Moon’s role as parole officer Saida is hugely underwritten, never explaining why she’s working on both sides of the law, but Adam J. Bernard’s Nath is an intimidating presence as Wyatt’s savvier friend.
The film often betrays its low budget with a lot of two-hander scenes staged in generic office spaces that doesn’t always feel like the bank, bar and other locations they are meant to represent. But in the deluge of information, Blonde. Purple does have some important points to make about the assumption made and treatment of black American men by the police and others, but it is a shame these are buried in a heist story that takes a great concept and can’t make the most of it.
Blonde. Purple is released on digital download on 30 November.