Papillon Review

Merry Christmas, movie lovers! I hope you’re enjoying the holidays and watching Home Alone for the 753th time while feeling old as you remember that the first Home Alone movie was filmed 28 years ago. I know I am.

Yesterday I spent time with my family watching  everything but a Christmas movie – we decided to see Papillon and I admit that it was my choice, merely based on the cast and the fact that it was filmed in Montenegro and Serbia. A little nostalgia never killed anybody, right? Besides, the director is Danish, so it was as if the movie itself was calling for me. I didn’t expect a Shawshank Redemption for sure but the plot seemed appealing given that I love a good prison break movie.

Papillon is about Henri Charriere, who is known as Papillon, and his story as a wrongfully convicted inmate at a prison in French Guiana where the conditions are nothing short of inhumane and brutal. Papillon meets and befriends the quirky and, at times, awkward Louis Dega with whom he plans to escape from the horrifying conditions. However, things don’t always go as planned.

I was engaged in every single minute of the movie – it is interesting, raw, humorous, and emotional. The shots are beautiful, although it is clear that everything is shot in the Balkans – at least if you already know the landscapes in Montenegro. The portrayal of loyalty will undoubtedly make you emotional and, although Papillon’s friends are convicts, you will root for them all the way. The scariest thing about Papillon is that it is a genuine portrayal of power craving back in the 30s. Torture and the guillotine were the everyday life of these prisoners.

Charlie Hunnam is exceptional in the role as a Papillon and I can’t show enough gratitude for his turndown of the role as Christian Grey because it would have been the most tragic career suicide. And for an actor on his level, it would have been a huge loss. His rawness from his Jax Teller persona from Son’s of Anarchy is present throughout the movie in a very appropriate manner given that the two characters have certain similarities. Rami Malek delivers a beautiful performance as Dega and, thankfully, 2018 has been his year so I don’t need to remind you of his acting skills. He has done enough to show his quality as an actor and artist. Throughout the movie, we see well-known Bosnian, Serbian, and Croatian actors who get a fair amount of screen time, which makes me so happy because there are many good actors from that part of Europe who deserve a lot of acknowledgement and credit.

I know that this version of Papillon is a remake of a 1973 version starring Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman and, frankly, those are some big shoes to fill, so the expectations are shy high – especially because it was written by Dalton Trumbo! But I must admit that the 2017 version is a very good and enjoyable movie. It keeps you on the edge of your seat for 2 hours and 15 minutes and you just become a part of it. The story is fantastic, the casting is perfect, and it is extremely well-written. Give Home Alone, Jingle All the Way, and whatever people watch at the moment, a break and watch Papillon because you’ll love it.

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