It took me a while to get used to Mr Nice and really get what they were going for. It is pretty hard to adapt a good book into a movie. However, if it works, the results are usually pretty amazing. The autobiography of an infamous British drug dealer Howard Marks was a bestseller, and it is a pretty logical idea to turn it into a movie. When I first watched this movie, I was expecting a stoner extravaganza. Something to match my “enhanced mood” back then and get me all giddy and excited. My expectations were only half-met back then as the movie wasn’t a sleek and fast-paced thriller I was expecting. One of the few things that I found amazing back then was their pretty truthful depiction of a marijuana/hashish high.
After a couple of years I ran into several articles and finally a couple of podcasts about his life and remembered Mr. Nice. I decided to give it a second chance, mostly because I didn’t remember almost anything about the movie. Gee, I wonder why is that? On the other hand, there are some advantages to not remembering shit as you can watch great movies several times. This time, I was completely straight and ready to fully absorb everything that Mr Nice had to offer. And it paid off, as I now loved it. I could see all the nuances and the atmosphere was just right. Still, the potency of the source material wasn’t fully realized but that’s an incredibly difficult job.
Howard Marks came from a small village Kenfig Hill in Wales, and he was a bit of a nerd. Studying hard he even reached Oxford where he was first introduced to the wonderful world of drugs. Smoking marijuana, drinking, and sex were his preoccupations during those years. A true college student, but all good things end, and after he finished school he got a job as a teacher and gave up that life. But life did not give up on him…
Rhys Ifans not only looks like Howard Marks, but he seems like a guy crazy enough to actually do this in real life. He gave a performance of a lifetime and I still remember his cheeky smile. The supporting cast was also pretty good with a few familiar faces. Still, I think that this movie would have benefited from a larger budget and a bit more high-profile cast. On the other hand, then it wouldn’t have this vibe of a small indie outcast movie, just like the story we will be following here. The atmosphere of the seventies seemed realistic enough and strangely refreshing. It’s always cool to see how things functioned back then.
In the end, Mr Nice is a breezy thriller with a great cast. If you want to know more about him and his adventures there are a lot of interesting documentaries, interviews and podcasts available so take your pick.
Director: Bernard Rose
Cast: Rhys Ifans, Chloë Sevigny, David Thewlis, Elsa Pataky, Crispin Glover, Andrew Tiernan
Fun Facts: Made its worldwide premiere at the South by Southwest Film Festival in Texas, United States, in March 2010