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The Big Ugly, Directed by Scott Wiper

Claire Stewart

Featuring characters entangled in utter mayhem through slow-motion shots coinciding with the narrator’s voice revealing the coordinate of the film location, the opening of The Big Ugly appears remarkable. These signals give a different meaning to the following scenes and what we have already seen as well. The strategy the film employs to present its characters in this aspect works effectively. We can see people who are complementary to the narrator’s information. It can be realized that in a turbulent, corrupted atmosphere, “good” and “evil” are all balanced out. Falling back into the adoption of archetypes remains the most significant factor in creating a strong connection between the audience and the film. The viewer knows they have set out on a journey to the land of classic stories where the two poles “good” and “evil” remain in an eternal struggle. The situation created opens up golden opportunities for the actors who need to convey various emotions in this tense context. Neelyn, played by Vinnie Jones, amongst all creepy characters, is the first character in whom the audience can get to put their confidence. Thanks to Neelyn, we are transported to the complex class of upscale mob bosses. A brutal, murderous man who seemingly rests easy in a spot and simply watches his bosses run the scene, but he presumably gives us the impression that the show could not go without him. It is he who makes us rest assured the show will go on.

It begins with taking us with ire and rancor to a tough, solemn space which is the center of the evil pole. However, once the deal is consummated and everybody is making the toast, we perceive some worldly light-heartedness. These tough criminals step away from their brutish ways when drunken and the film tries to modify its tone and rhythm accordingly. Music and cuts are aligned with these experiences accurately, thus strengthening the impact of such modifications and emotional transitions.

The flow of the film plot twists unexpectedly and, so to speak, quite differently than what we basically imagine. Seemingly peripheral characters and trivialities begin to surface and change the game. Trivial characters along with their problems make the film deviate from the proceedings of the crime lords’ world, and the film attempts to change the atmosphere by following the parallel story lines of them. In the gangsters’ world, the film proceeds with a cat-and-mouse game and employs various generic strategies to constantly stay one step ahead of the audience. Anything is possible in this world. Scott Wiper, a director of undoubted astuteness, contrives to not let any of these folks be the center of narrative gravity. Those who were the beasts of the battle previously, now in a human moment, appear quite frail and beatable. Those who are seemingly innocuous turn into terrifying creatures. Although the film opens with predominant narrative archetypes, it starts to be unpredictable from the very first night. Will (played by Nicholas Braun) and his romantic relationship with the bar tender, the relationships between peripheral folks and the gang members, and Neelyn’s fragile relationship with his girlfriend, which later on develops into a motive for a chaos on his part, all seem destined to come true.

The visual equivalents that Scott Wiper applies so as to narrate such an intriguing story are stunningly compounded of ruminative frames, cutting on action, and match cuts, allowing him to cope well with aesthetic complications even in locations (like restaurants and bars) swarming with people . The scenes in prison cell are clear manifestations of such thoughtful frames. Many secrets are buried in a faraway land of wrong-side-of-the-law, sniveling cowards, to which the film attempts to draw near quite patiently. Scott draws the peripheral characters skillfully at the right time to the film’s center of attention. Those who leave us an impression of being boozers in bars or those marginal bodyguards emerge at the proper point to play their effective parts. The visual regimes employed in order to introduce the characters and approach them are highly exceptional.


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