Guy Pearce has got a new film out this week called ‘Brimstone’, a Western thriller directed by Dutch director Martin Koolhoven and co-stars Dakota Fanning, Kit Harrington and Pearce’s wife, Carice van Houten. Pearce always integrates seamlessly into any film he is in and always elevates the material with his performances (even something deeply flawed as ‘Alien: Covenant‘). In ‘Brimstone’ he plays the villain, a ruthless Reverend. Pearce has played some brilliant villains, which will feature in this list and hopefully he’ll be the highlight of this film again. I thought this would be a suitable time to have a look back at Pearce’s career and count down his Top Five films, in my opinion. These films are based on both his performance in them and their quality – if I was ranking simply based on his performance, the list would dramatically change.
5) The Proposition
Australian director John Hillcoat‘s feature length debut is his best film to date with a very subdued performance by Pearce in the lead role as Charlie Burns. Charlie goes through all manners of hell in this film and Nick Cave’s script puts Pearce front and centre in this epic. It’s a really underrated and underwatched film and features multiple performances as well as Pearce in this film that are highly worthy of mention, in particular the late John Hurt.
‘Memento’ is Christopher Nolan’s second film after ‘Following’ but his first with a fair budget and a well-known cast. Guy Pearce is excellent as the amnesiac Leonard who tries to learn through conversations, violence and tattoos to search for the people who attacked him and killed his wife. ‘Memento’ is highly original in having its narrative play backwards and also experimenting through colour. It’s an ingenius concept and ‘Memento’ really put Nolan on the map of filmmakers to take seriously. If you want your first film to watch from this director and have a great Guy Pearce performance within it, this is a great place to start.
3) The King’s Speech
Tom Hooper’s ‘The King’s Speech’ recieved many accolades and recieved many nominations for its performances but Guy Pearce, in my opinion, was unfairly left out. Pearce plays Edward, Prince of Wales who becomes King temporarily until he abdicates due to his relationship with Wallace Simpson, a twice-divorced American. One can really sense in Pearce’s performance the inner turmoil the character has to go through, trying to conform to expectations whilst at the same time doing what enriches him best. It’s a very meaty role and one that Pearce wholly succeeds in pulling off.
2) Iron Man 3
It may come a bit of a surprise that I have ranked this entry in the ever-expanding Marvel Cinematic Universe behemoth. But ‘Iron Man 3’ is one of the most original entries largely thanks to Shane Black’s direction and a fair amount of plot surprises sprinkled in. Guy Pearce excels as Aldrich Killian. Again, Pearce plays a character who is suffering his own personal problems and Pearce is really able to elevate the material with his performance.
‘Lawless’ is the weakest film quality-wise on this list but Pearce absolutely knocks it out of the park as the villainous Marshal Charley Rakes who antagonises the Bondurat brothers by trying to shut down their Prohibtion-era moonshine business. Pearce plays a really nasty, slimy character who is unpredictable, suitably ruthless and menacing. He really steals the show here and dramatically elevates the quality of the film. ‘Lawless’ would otherwise be a slightly above-average but a deeply flawed crime film. It still is largely but at least the threat from Pearce’s character seems extremely real.
So there we go, there’s my personal Top Five. You’re probably wondering though, where are ‘L. A. Confidential’, ‘The Hurt Locker’ and ‘Animal Kingdom’? Well whilst I do like those films, I feel that these five are more special to me although these films do contain some of his best performances too and are mostly excellent films in their own right. Pearce has such a wide range of performances and films that he his career has spanned across many genres. Here’s hoping ‘Brimstone’ is worthwhile (it has all the signs)and that this very versatile and talented actor’s career continues to flourish.
‘Brimstone’ will be released in UK cinemas on Friday 29th September