A few little known facts about me…I ‘m obsessed with mafia films. The Godfather 1, 2 &3, Goodfellas, Donnie Brasco, Casino, The Departed, American Gangster. Bugsy, Prizzi’s Honor…you name it…I’ve seen it!! I’m a HUGE Johnny Depp fan going back to the “21 JumpStreet” days. He’s an extraordinary actor with skills, talent and definitely more than just a pretty face.
The most important little known fact, I actually dated a mob dude (Latin Mob) back in the day when I lived in NYC. Needless to say, it abruptly ended the morning I was awaken to a hail of bullets coming through the front door of his apartment. It was a buzz kill to say the least, not to mention the fact that it scared the poop out of me!!!
Cut to 2011, I clicked on the evening news to discover that one of the most notorious mobsters in Boston, Mass. history has been arrested in Santa Monica!!! WTH??!! The mobster seen cuffed on my television set was James “Whitey” Bulger, who was #2 on the FBI Most Wanted List right behind Osama Bin Laden and he had been living less than an hour away from me for nearly 16 years.
So, when the trailers aired showing Depp as Bulger in those blue contacts, I didn’t think I would be able to get past that look to enjoy his performance. Well baby, not only did only did I enjoy his performance — I was spell-bound! Not only did I forget Depp was wearing contacts, but his uncanny ability to take on Bulger’s persona having never met the man was brilliant. Boston accents are very tricky to master, but Johnny Depp is like the Lon Chaney of accents and characters. He masters them and pulls it off without a hitch!
Having watched the documentary about “Whitey” Bulger and knowing the recordings used for were the only reference Depp had made his performance even more of a revelation.
So, for those of you non-mafia fans, James “Whitey” Bulger was the ringleader of the Winter Hill Gang, which terrorized Boston in the 70’s and 80’s. In 1972, Bulger supposedly became a FBI informant, allegedly provided prosecution protection (by childhood friend/FBI Agent John Connolly) for him and his gang’s illegal activities. Ultimately, Bulger’s arrest turned into a conviction of 31 our of 32 counts of everything ranging from racketeering to murder. Connolly got sentenced to 40 years. Associates and Winter Hill Gang Members Kevin Weeks, Steve Flemmi and John Martorano all received lesser sentences are now walking the streets of Boston as free men.
Joel Edgerton as John Connolly allows the audience to watch as the Bostonian bravado, über confidence that is a staple for this FBI Agent fade into a paranoid, desperate man willing to protect himself and his friends by any means necessary.
Dakota Johnson, fresh off of her controversial “Fifty Shades of Grey”, as Bulger’s love interest Lindsey Cyr gives a heart wrenching performance as a mother whose son’s medical condition tips the scales of her relationship to a point of no return.
Peters Sarsgaard as Halloran knows all too well how to give you the fine line between crazy and vulnerable. I’ve been a huge fan of his since “Boys Don’t Cry”. Oscar Nominee Benedict Cumberbatch displays what a true acting chameleon he is portraying Bulger’s younger brother Billy with just enough chilliness that one can see that the Senator and his brother could have possibly been one in the same.
Last, but certainly not least, Kevin Bacon rounds out this stellar cast and is obviously having a great year in film with this film following his fantabulous performance in “Cop Car”
Having already made a huge splash at the Venice, Telluride and Toronto film festivals, Black Mass opened in the #1 spot at box offices across country in the US – making a particularly stong showing in Boston…where the whole story began.