True History of the Kelly Gang is yet another take on Ned Kelly. But, it might be my favorite one. So many people outside of Australia won’t realize how influential the Ned Kelly story is to film. Hell, the first movie about his life was the first feature length drama ever shot. So, what can be said about a notorious robber who inspired some of the first filmed crime dramas? Well, what was there to say the last time we had Mick Jagger and Heath Ledger play him?
Having been a fan of the history surrounding Ned Kelly, I feel like this movie was made for me. Tweaking previous takes on the Kelly Gang allows this film to frame real history through pop culture sensibilities. You get the real take on Kelly’s childhood and what led his mom to sell him to Harry Power. However, it thumbs its nose at gender norms and convictions as we come to understand the first crimes of the Kelly Gang.
Bank robbers and their mythology get wrapped up in this web of confusion. The source novel by Carey included the detail of the Kelly Gang staging their robberies in female dress. Slamming this into a Marie Antoinette style soundtrack produces a punkish culture clash that creates a new historic crime tale. The poppy soundtrack mixed with Justin Kurzel’s underappreciate eye creates quite the film. Where was this guy on Assassin’s Creed and MacBeth?
Russell Crowe is having this fascinating era in his acting career. Striking somewhere between Ray Milland and Oliver Reed, he’s doing fun genre pictures that allow me to stretch past what blew him up in decades prior. By playing Harry Power, he sets up the groundwork for what will become the Kelly Gang. He teaches Ned what it means to be a bank robber and how to have a heads up on the cops.
IFC has been killing it during the Pandemic with their acquisitions and efforts to keep the theatrical experience thriving. Whether it’s that little drive-in theater in Ocala showing indie movies or On Demand blowing up with highlights that wouldn’t hit it for weeks, IFC is the king of the hill.
That being said, between Swallow and releases like True History of the Kelly Gang, IFC hasn’t brought their A game this hard since 2014. Hopefully, their banner year won’t go ignored due to the Quarantine shutdown. After watching this film, I recommend checking out the source novel to get some more historic perspective. Great work all around and one of my favorite movies of the year.