Public Enemies

I loved Public Enemies enough that I wanted to sit through a second showing immediately. Real life--going to Mom's house to vacuum and then getting home to a five-year-old--intruded, though. Sigh.

Public Enemies is the very fictionalized account of the final run of 1930s bank robber John Dillinger (played by the always gorgeous, always riveting Johnny Depp). There isn't a single misstep in casting with Christian Bale as lead of the FBI office in Chicago Melvin Purvis, Billy Crudup as FBI head J. Edgar Hoover, and a fascinating Marion Cotillard as Dillinger's girlfriend Billie Frechette.

I generally get annoyed with people who ignore and/or completely change the factual information available when making books or movies about real people.

I enjoyed Public Enemies so much, though, that I'm going to ignore items like having Charles "Pretty Boy" Floyd killed near the beginning of the film when he actually died three months after John Dillinger in real life. I just know to take everything in the film as likely not true. As in, did Dillinger, completely unrecognized, really take a little self-directed tour of the Dillinger Squad office in Chicago on the day he died? And did he have one-tenth of the feeling for Billie Frechette portrayed in the movie?

Actually, I wonder if the real John Dillinger would even recognize himself in the brooding, romanticized version played by Johnny Depp. I'm thinking not at all.

And I'm just going to pretend that my favorite scene, when Dillinger comes to find Frechette at her job as a hatcheck girl and explains why she should be his girlfriend, really happened. That scene, by itself, explains the fascination of many a "good girl" with the "bad boys."

If anything, though, this movie makes me want to read books about the real John Dillinger, even knowing that he can't possibly measure up to this character portrayed on the Big Screen. Can anybody (in)famous really match the legends around them, anyway, though?

Besides being more fictionalized than fact-based, which probably made the story more interesting than real life, my only complaints about the movie were some sound issues (some of the dialogue is muffled and hard to catch) and some camera issues (I started to feel a little queasy during one of the shoot-out scenes due to camera movement).

My overall personal rating of Public Enemies is an A-. Can't wait to buy the DVD.


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