Papillon Movie Review: Grim, gruelling yet fairly enjoyable

By Johnson Thomas

Papillon tells the true story of Charriere (Charlie Hunnam) and his fellow prisoner Louis Dega (Rami Malek) as they plan an escape from a penal colony in French Guiana.

A still from Papillon

Papillon
U/A: Thriller/Drama
Director: Michael Noer
Cast: Charlie Hunnam, Rami Malek, Tommy Flanagan
Rating

Danish filmmaker Michael Noer's retelling of Henri Charriere's escapades doesn't work up as much interest as Franklin J Schaffner's 1973 classic did. The film tells the true story of Charriere (Charlie Hunnam) and his fellow prisoner Louis Dega (Rami Malek) as they plan an escape from a penal colony in French Guiana. The experience of life and death, inclusive of extreme violence, in the colony of the '30s — where escape was considered a folly pursued by those who have a death wish — is definitely a better read than a cinema.

Even so, Noer manages to get Hunnam to show off his fairly decent acting chops to good effect. Malek as Dega makes for an effective foil. The narrative embraces several sequences that have a distinct style and colour. But the overall tempo begins to lose rhythm when Charierre is sent to solitary confinement following a failed escape bid.

Though shorter than the original, this largely uneven and grim effort loses momentum midway through its telling and by the time it reaches its final salvo, there's little to endear it to viewers. It's obvious that great care has been taken to produce this escape story —but a little more streamlining and tightening might have helped in making the result a little more alluring.

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