Originally posted on The Iris (May 18, 2016)
While Hollywood has always enjoyed telling a good life story, it’s no secret that biopics are the hardest to tackle purely for the reason that filmmakers struggle to form the vision of someone’s life accurately and effectively within the average of a two-hour limit.
With the release of The Man Who Knew Infinity, it’s time to reminisce and take this chance to look at some of the greatest biopics shown on the big screen.
The Social Network
Perhaps one of the most noted films when asked about a favourite in the genre, and why wouldn’t it be? With billions of active users currently on Facebook, this biopic unveils the story of one of the most socially impactful platforms of our time.
The performances are incredible, and combined with the sharp and creative dialogue along with the cinematography, the film carries sinister undertones that arise with the dilemmas faced in the film.
While The Social Network mainly revolves around the making of Facebook and all the problems that arose before and after, the film really encompasses feelings of betrayal, greed and the need to fit in that we as humans can universally identify with.
This visually-striking biopic follows the story of the artist Frida Kahlo, who used the pain from a crippling injury at 18 and her complicated marriage as inspiration for her paintings.
This inventive portrayal of the famous Mexican painter strays from the typical restraints of realism that biopics will often follow. The director, Julie Taymor, emulates Kahlo’s surrealism as the film integrates the artist’s vivid imagination into the progression of the story and the events of her life. Scene transitions will often manifest from stills of Frida’s artworks and her vibrant day-dreams that move into a live-action scene.
Salma Hayak’s poignant performance as Kahlo really helps the audience understand who she was as a woman. A remarkably passionate and strong-willed human being who lived a courageous and strenuous life as an artistic and sexual revolutionary.
The King’s Speech
It’s a biopic focused on a specific part of King George VI’s life. The time period where he learns to cope with his speech impediment in order to help lead his country through World War II, with the help of an unorthodox speech therapist.
A very character-driven film that is both deeply-moving and hilarious, framed against the backdrop of a critical moment of history. Assisted by Colin Firth’s brilliant acting and the film’s captivating script, The King’s Speech is something else entirely.
It’s about a King struggling with his inner turmoil, struggling to find courage and a voice. It’s about the process of reaching that moment of triumph, not the triumph itself – and that’s what makes this biopic more powerful.
Catch Me If You Can
This incredible film showcases the true story of Frank Abagnale Jr, one of the most successful con-men in history. All before his 19th birthday, Frank had successfully posed as an airline pilot, doctor, and legal prosecutor, during which he managed to cash millions of dollars’ worth of fraudulent checks.
While it is a lengthy film, it doesn’t outstay its welcome as it is effortlessly enjoyable. Steven Spielberg gives the film a light touch, with an admirable insight into Frank’s life demonstrating that despite how cunning, charming, and intelligent he may be – he’s still just a kid. A naive and troubled teenager with flaws, not a dangerous criminal who deserves to go to prison. It is for this reason that watching his scams succeed feels like more of an achievement, not a dangerous crime.
The Imitation Game
An adaptation of Alan Turing’s story during World War II, a genius mathematician who tries to crack Enigma’s code with help from a team of other mathematicians.
The Imitation Game is a powerful and an engaging biopic with a wonderfully tight screenplay, not leaving a scene to waste. Featuring an amazing performance from Benedict Cumberbatch as Turing and strong supporting acts from the amazing cast who strengthen the deep commentary of sexuality, the intense societal struggles of those with a brilliant mind, paired with humour and complexity.