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The Gentlemen: Guy Richie’s Stylish English Gangster Film

Criminal. Class.

By Alexander Moore & Co

Photo: Warner Bros.

English film director Guy Ritchie’s latest endeavour is a 2019 Action/Comedy film boasting a star studded lineup of cast members including Matthew McConaughey, Charlie Hunnam, Colin Farrell, Michelle Dockery, Hugh Grant, Henry Golding, Jeremy Strong and Eddie Marsan.

Titled The Gentlemen, the film plot follows American expat Mickey Pearson (Matthew McConaughey), a boy born into poverty in the United States whom receives a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford University where he begins his selling of marijuana to fellow students, before his later conquest to build a highly profitable marijuana empire in the city of London.

Being directed by Guy Richie, The Gentlemen is awash with stylistic easter eggs, as one may expect from a film director of such knowing stature as Richie. Indeed, during in an interview for the movie release during their press tour, the majority of cast members revealed their admirations for the detailed fashion pieces and ‘classy’ English gangster aesthetic that Guy was able to achieve through his careful selection of costumes. Actress Michelle Dockery even went so far during said press tour as to say that Guy Richie is perhaps the most well-dressed movie producer she has ever had the privilege of working with on-set.

Cue applause.

For those of us whom have seen his movies before however, this sounds like standard Guy Richie movie directing, which if nothing else can be an acquired taste if you have not borne witness to any of his previous works.

But beyond his artisanal appreciation for high-quality costumes lies an even more iconic process with which his films are continually associated with; fast-paced narrative story-telling, and an abundance of slow-motion and special effects. These processes have arguably become synonymous with his iconic film aesthetic and are the trademark style of his craft, think:

– Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998),

– Snatch (2000), Sherlock Holmes (2009),

– The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (2015), and

– King Arthur (2017).

Whilst it is hard to think of Michelle Dockery starring in anything else besides her bedazzling portrayal of aristocrat Lady Mary Crawley in Julian Fellowes’ wondrous drama series Downton Abbey (as is the typical problem with actors and actresses whom excel in certain roles), her performance in The Gentlemen is a telling sign as to the depth of her acting prowess; her dripping cockney accent as supporting protagonist Rosalind Pearson showing just how versatile her linguistic skills can be.

Charlie Hunnam is worth a mention if not simply for the fact that he is an all-time British favourite of ours, as you are probably aware of thanks to our copious postings of him in various photoshoots and acting roles (think Sons of Anarchy) on our Instagram page. His performance as Mickey Pearson’s right hand man Raymond is fitting of the role, and his wardrobe aesthetic adequately fits the bill for an upper-class English Gangster.

But enough about the cast of the film – we’ll now break down the stylistic elements behind the actors’ iconic characters.

#1: Mickey Pearson (Matthew McConaughey)

Matthew McConaughey’s portrayal of the American expat Mickey Pearson, whose marijuana distribution business was established whilst still at Oxford University and which has since grown into a multi-million dollar company, strikes the right balance between criminally dirty determination and aristocratic class.

The main protagonist of the film, we see McConaughey’s character decked out in a tweed-jacket and twill flat-cap as he traverses the English countryside in a navy Range Rover Classic, and witness a combination of checkered-suits, overcoats, colourful cotton ties, and also a velvet tuxedo, throughout the remainder of the film.

As we’ve said previously, McConaughey’s dressage and demeanour manages to strike the perfect balance between his character’s poor, criminal upbringing and the privileged position he eventually finds himself in amongst England’s elite.

McConaughey carries his wardrobe pieces with confident fluency, even down to the smallest details, which are arguably the most important, such as his prominent gold signet ring and heavy golden figaro bracelet. The style and apparel choices of Mickey Pearson successfully embody the rough and classical elements of McConaughey’s body aesthetic, and in doing so create a captive character throughout the movies plot-line, and whose wardrobe pieces provide an opportunity from which we can all draw inspiration.

Style Rating: 4 / 5.

#2: Raymond (Charlie Hunnam)

Charlie has previously worked with Guy Ritchie on King Arthur: Legend of the Sword in which we witnessed his eye-popping body transformation into the muscular, streetraised Boy King version of the mythical British military commander, Arthur, that Guy had envisioned.

In The Gentlemen, however, we see a complete change of tone.

The opening scene gives us a spectacular view of Raymond’s sprawling English abode; his boutique chefs kitchen opening and integrating seamlessly into the dining and living rooms of his apartment, captured beautifully through the cinematographic filming lens.

Charlie’s waxed back hair, clean sense of dress, and iconic gold signet ring and watch ensemble paint an impressive picture during the scene from which the majority of the movie will be narrated by Hugh Grant and Charlie’s respective characters.

Hunnam’s waspy round-framed tortoise shell glasses also nicely complement his character’s classical brown, high-neck knitwear and tie combination worn at the beginning of the film.

After the opening shot of Raymond in his casual knitwear, oxford shirt and tie masterpiece, we see him later sporting choices including a woollen three-piece suit during the scene inside a local pub, where he’s charged with conducting correspondence on behalf of his boss Mickey Pearson; in a dark navy overcoat during his attempts at tracking down a certain aristocrat’s lost daughter, which eventually leads to an on-foot street chase (and during which we are enlightened as to how easily one may conceal a submachine gun under a trench-coat), and of course the famous navy quilted jacket we’ve seen produced by the likes of Ralph Lauren and Barbour.

Overall, Charlie’s character Raymond provides a well-enacted support role for his boss Mickey Pearson, and the combined attention to both characters’ dressage detail by director Guy Richie ensures an aesthetically pleasing viewing experience surrounding the duo throughout the entirety of the film.

Style Rating: 4 / 5.

#3: The Coach (Colin Farrell)

The winner of The Gentlemen as far as we’re concerned.

Colin Farrell’s iconic Irish twang is awesome and the checkered chav tracksuits he and his students wear throughout the film are absolutely flawless.

Farrell portrays the independent and surprisingly resourceful character simply named ‘coach’ who owns and runs a mixed martial arts gymnasium. He looks out for and privately coaches a number of seemingly troubled but nevertheless physically imposing English youth.

Coach manages to involuntarily get mixed up in Mickey’s marijuana business dealings when his students, unknown to him, secretly undertake a night-time raid on one of Mickey’s underground plantations. From that point on we witness Farrell’s character working alongside Raymond and Pearson to demonstrate his apologies for his meddling in their criminal affairs and in order to not incur any future displays of their wrath.

The checkered zip-up sweatsuits that we see Farrell and his boys don are suitably spectacular. Combine this with his compact build, flat cap and buttoned-up polo shirt, and we have a properly English gangster character on our ‘ands.

It is a welcome change from the common ‘serious’ theme of acting roles that Colin Farrell has typically taken on in the past (think Total Recall (2012) & Fantastic Beasts (2016)), and his masterful oratorical abilities are as much on display in this film as is his iconic wardrobe setup and comedic ability.

Coach gets the nod from us.

Style Rating: 4.5 / 5.

#4: Fletcher (Hugh Grant)

“Buonas Dias, Fletcher-Mondo.”

Hugh Grant portrays ‘Fletcher’ in The Gentlemen (2019) – a (seemingly) homosexual private investigator hired by the editor of British tabloid the Daily Print to investigate Mickey Pearson. He is also the predominant narrator for the majority of the film.

We do not have much sartorial wisdom to impart regarding Grant’s style aesthetic in the film, perhaps due to the lack of material we have to work with, but he makes the list in large part due simply to the rose-tinted Ray Bans lenses he wears in the movie; lenses acclaimed for their benefits in reducing eye strain by blocking out blue UV light, enhancing driving visibility, and (depending on the lens strength) increased depths of field and vision.

Think Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark, or Jack Nicholson… as Jack Nicholson.

As his role in leading narrator and co-protagonist of the storyline, we obviously hear more than we see regarding Grant’s character. Nevertheless, the wardrobe choices once again sanctioned by Guy Richie in pieces such as the stylish puffer-jacket, red leather coat and fur-lined hood we see throughout the film do justice to his character’s journalist turned private investigator vibe.

Style Rating: 3 / 5.

#5: Rosalind Pearson (Michelle Dockery)

The sharp edge to Dockery’s performance as Rosalind Pearson is wonderful and full-bodied, giving the film a proper edgy feel that is undoubtedly a requisite for any woman aspiring to be stylish and upper-class but secretly steeped in criminal mannerisms.

The Cockney accent Dockery embodies in attempting to enact her character Rosalind as the owner of an elite womens car garage again shows us another level of depth to her acting prowess.

From the sweeping grounds of Highclere castle in Downton Abbey to the underground hustle of gangster England, Michelle has made what appears to be a successful transition in her acting career from English aristocracy to classy criminal wife.

Whilst still hard not to imagine Michelle attempting to navigate the evolving world of post-World War II aristocratic England as Lady Mary Crawley, her performance in The Gentlemen (2015) is both suitable and a fitting testament to her versatility as an actress.

Style Rating: 3.5 / 5.


Picture credit: Miramax

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