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Mr Nice


Stars: Rhys Ifans, David Thewlis, Chloe Sevigny, Crispin Glover, Jack Huston, Elsa Pataky, Andrew Tiernan, Christian McKay, Luis Tosar, Omid Djalili

Director: Bernard Rose

Brilliant at school but much bullied, Welsh teenager Howard Marks (Ifans) wins a place at Oxford, and is soon sucked into the marijuana culture there, in spite of the death of a friend from a drug overdose. Going 'straight' and starting life as a teacher, Howard is soon back on hash and. after another friend (Huston) is busted for drug-smuggling, takes over his role, becoming Britain's biggest importer of marijuana - thanks to contact with Malik (Djalili) in Pakistan.

Howard also finds himself recruited by old college friend Ham (McKay) to spy on eccentric IRA agent Jim McCann (Thewlis, with a roistering Irish accent), who proves only too willing to import kilos of hash into the Emerald Isle.

It's difficult to know whether we should just accept writer-director Rose's view of this anti-hero (based on Marks's own best-selling autobiography) as a lovable rogue; after all, he never dealt in hard drugs. Nevertheless, we feel a certain unease in so doing. As to the film, Ifans fits the role of Marks like a glove - the perfect fusion of actor and role. America's Sevigny, with a flawless English accent, is also good as his wife, but the film is undeniably overlong and at times repetitive; a little of this one-man smokescreen goes a long way.

One small technical quibble. I don't think girls were wearing thongs in the 1960s. Swimwear from the period also looks rather too modern.

David Quinlan

UK 2009. UK Distributor: e1 Films. Colour by Kodak/Soho Film Lab.
121 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 18.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 3, Swearing 1.

Review date: 05 Oct 2010