Papillon (2017) – Review

Upon finding himself locked up for a crime he did not commit, Henri Charriere (Charlie Hunnam) begins the long and painstakingly slow process of trying to escape from Devil’s Island, the brutal prison in which he has been confined to, while also befriending a convicted counterfeiter, Louis Dega (Rami Malek), along the way. Papillon is a remake of the original 1973 release that starred Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman. An extremely entertaining and at times thought-provoking movie that is currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Director: Michael Noer
Writers: Aaron Guzikowski, Dalton Trumbo, Lorenzo Semple Jr, Henri Charriere
Starring: Charlie Hunnam, Rami Malek, Michael Socha, Roland Moller

Remakes don’t always hit the mark when it comes to public admiration, but it’s fair to say that Papillon faired pretty well compared to others that have been released over the last few years. I can think of numerous that weren’t well received or weren’t needed at all, but all in all, Papillon should go down as a solid remake of a true 70’s classic.

The story presented was a beautiful one that demonstrated friendship, loyalty, trust and sheer belief, all rolled into one. On an emotional level you certainly felt the pain of certain characters, as well as their excitement and joy at times too. The fact that this was a true story also made you appreciate just how fortunate we are to be living in times where the kind of life led by these characters, is no longer a reality.

Without wanting to compare this latest release to the original too much, there were some pretty stark differences between the two, which made it difficult at times to ignore. The first being the fact that this story was based in the tropical setting French Guiana, but a large percentage of the filming was actually done in Europe – Serbia to more exact. This certainly showed and the 1973 release most definitely had a greater, and more authentic appeal to it, largely down to the fact that the filming was captured on the island of Jamaica.

As far as the cast went, I felt like both Charlie Hunnam and Rami Malek seemed authentic and believable in their roles as Henri and Louis, respectively. The pair showcased a blossoming friendship as the runtime wore on and nothing about that said friendship seemed forced or false at any stage. Elsewhere, the support cast was largely unknown, with the most notable being Michael Socha, who starred Julot, and Roland Moller, who adopted the role of Celier.

All in all, Papillon certainly was a good remake of a 70’s classic. For sure, there were some noticeable differences between this release and the older release, but if you can put those to the back of your mind and get past those, then you’ll be sure to enjoy this one. It’s also worth noting that a review for Papillon (1973) will be coming to the website in the near future, and both movies are currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video.

“Now what’s the son of two school teachers doing in a place like this?”

Louis Dega – Papillon

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