Pusher [Blu-Ray] Luis Prieto

Pusher [Blu-Ray] Luis Prieto
4
In remaking the gritty mid-level drug dealer flick that first got Nicolas Winding Refn noticed, Luis Prieto has turned out a slick, highly stylized picture that more closely resembles the kind of pretentious vacuity the Drive director has become known for than the overrated aesthetician's original crime saga. Transplanted to England, Prieto's Pusher is presented as a hedonistic rave, highlighting the limited focus of its central characters with monochromatic colour schemes and a speaker-distorting soundtrack by Orbital. The disproportionate mixing between conversational decibel levels and scenes set to pulsing dance music is distracting and frustrating — who wants to watch a movie with one hand on the volume control? At least the crystalline dance funk is high grade, but that doesn't make the sound level discrepancies forgivable. Getting past this technical faux pas, Prieto has managed to find a surprising amount of soul in these well-meaning screw-ups. Credit for creating a sympathetic lead is largely due to Richard Coyle's vulnerable and humbly charming turn as Frank, a middleman in over his head after a big deal goes wrong. Zlatko Buric reprises his role as boisterous, but deadly serious drug kingpin Milo, stealing scenes once again with his ability to turn from Eastern European teddy bear to roaring grizzly the second his patience is tested. And a patient man he is — unlike most stories tied to the repayment of mob money, Milo gives Frank every opportunity to make good before resorting to bodily harm. As desperation sets in, it becomes apparent that the glitzy flash of Prieto's art design is intended to reflect the comforting distraction of excess people who live hand-to-mouth on the razor's edge of society wear like blinders. Another thoughtful decision on the part of Prieto is his insistence on expanding the movie's single significant female role. Rather than leave Frank's stripper girlfriend, Flo, as window dressing with one pivotal purpose until the sequel (which likely isn't coming this time), her motivations are made abundantly clear. For the most part, the special features included with this rather gorgeous Blu-Ray release are caught up in self-consciously emphasising the uniqueness of Prieto's take on the material and how supportive Refn is of this iteration. There isn't much of note for those interested in the technical aspects of production, just a great deal of chatter. "Cast and Crew Interviews" are just the full versions of the sound bites used in the "Making Of," which is longer than necessary, but contains some insightful commentary by Coyle, while "Premiere Q&A" is an awkwardly put together set of redundant queries. Very shiny and more compassionate than expected, Pusher is a decent alternative for style-obsessed poseurs who've worn out their VHS copies of Trainspotting. (eOne)