The Gentlemen (2019)

The Gentlemen
Director: Guy Ritchie
Writer: Guy Ritchie
Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Charlie Hunnam, Hugh Grant, Michelle Dockery, Jeremy Strong, Lyne Renee, Colin Farrell, Henry Golding, Tom Wu, Chidi Ajufo, Eddie Marsan
Seen on: 3.3.2020

Content Note: racism, homomisia, antisemitism, (attempted) rape

Plot:
Mickey Pearson (Matthew McConaughey) has been running a great weed business for many years now, supported by his wife Ros (Michelle Dockery) and his right-hand man Ray (Charlie Hunnam). But it is time to retire and sell the business. He already found a prospective buyer in Matthew (Jeremy Strong), but Dry Eye (Henry Golding) also shows an interest. That’s when PI Fletcher (Hugh Grant) shows up at Ray’s doorstep and threatens to ruin everything if he doesn’t get paid.

So, I saw the ads for The Gentlemen and I knew that there would be racist jokes in it. I was considering not seeing it entirely, but then there was the perfect opportunity to see it and I was lured in by all those names, so I gave in anyway. I shouldn’t have. It turns out that there isn’t “just” a few racist jokes, the film is racist, antisemitic and homomisic to its core. And it’s way too long.

the film poster showing a collage of the main characters on a white background.

[SPOILERS]

The problem with The Gentlemen isn’t just that they make cheap, racist jokes about Asians all the time (like the eternal “that name sounds like fuck hahaha” or “let’s switch l and r because Asians can’t tell them apart hahaha”) and it isn’t just that they have Fletcher hit on Ray because we all know that gay men just can’t keep themselves from going after the straights. That would be bad enough, but the film actually goes one step further: in the end, it’s a triumph of the straight, white guys (Mickey, Ray and Coach) over the men of color (Dry Eye and George), the queer(-coded) dudes (Fletcher and Matthew) and a journalist gets thrown in for good measure (Big Dave). That Matthew – who isn’t actually shown to be gay (at least he goes around with a wife on his arm), but is obviously feminized and queer-coded – is also Jewish also brings antisemitism to the table, as the feminized Jewish man is a staple figure of antisemitism. That he is also a miser who does everything to push down Mickey’s (superfair! totally not-greedy!) prize makes things worse, but that the whole thing ends with Mickey literally demanding a pound of his flesh is the antisemitic icing on the cake of shit this film gives us.

The cherry on top is that there are barely any women in the film. The only woman who gets something to do is Ros and she is the worst possible rendition of a kick-ass female character: she’s awesome, practically flawless and tough, but in the end, of course there’s an attempt to rape her (it’s Dry Eye’s doing – adding another racist layer) – from which she is only saved by Mickey, so that we can get this in as well.

Mickey (Matthew McConaughey) talking to Dry Eye (Henry Golding) with Ray (Charlie Hunnam) keeping a watchful eye in the back.

In short, it’s not just a few ill-advised jokes here and there, the entire plot of the film is steeped in racism, antisemitism, homomisia and sexism. It’s so blatant, I don’t know how this film got made. Usually people try to hide their -isms a little more. That the cast is really good (and I have a whole new appreciation for Charlie Hunnam now) doesn’t make anything about all of that better.

In addition, I found myself looking at my watch more than once. After the third time (or so) that Fletcher said “no, I’m not at my point yet, but we’re getting there!”, I just wanted to tell him to fuck off and the film to get a move on. The pacing just didn’t work here. In the end, the film is a failure on pretty much all counts.

Fletcher (Hugh Grant) talking to Ray (Charlie Hunnam).

Summarizing: a big no from me.

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