Pierrepoint: The Last Hangman

2005 drama

Rating: 15/20

Plot: Efficiently proficient and prolific, Albert Pierrepoint followed in his father's bootsteps and hanged people for a living. When he's not delivering groceries, that is. And probably only people who had it coming. He didn't seem like the type to hang random people. Pierrepoint executed just over six hundred during his twenty-two years, and that was just when he was supposed to be delivering groceries! Eventually, the so-called "Babe Ruth of Hangmen" reconsiders his stance on capital punishment.

The director certainly takes a languid approach with this one, not only showing seemingly every meticulous detail in claustrophobic settings but showing these meticulous details over and over and over again. It delivers the point home and comes as close as I imagine it can come to helping a guy watching a television screen understand some of the feelings of the increasingly-troubled titular hangman, and Timothy Spall, without any of the pomp or tricks that people usually see in great acting performances, has a quiet magnetism. His performance is half the picture, and he gives Pierrepoint's story a realism and poignancy in a very natural way. Plus, I dig his cheeks and wonder if implants were involved. Still, this visually sucks you into a gloom, and after a while, the movie starts to seem much longer than it actually is. Its interesting subject matter and gripping internal conflict make this worth checking out.

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