Rainy Day Movie is a feature here on Living With a Nerd that provides short insights into movies and series that you should save for a rainy day.  In this edition of Rainy Day Movie, we take a look at Public Enemies. 

Packed full with an all-star cast, tons of shootouts, excellent cinematography, a great script, and convincing acting, Public Enemies is a long but highly enjoyable film.  It centers around John Dillinger’s final days, as his criminal empire crumbles around him and the Bureau closes in.  The story takes some historical liberties for the sake of entertainment, but the movie is in no way diminished by these changes.  Interestingly, many of the historical changes are similar to the types of changes present in the movie Braveheart.

The most striking thing for me about this film was the color palette.  All of the colors were very muted earth tones (with sparingly-used splashes of bright color), which, even though the film was created using modern-day tools and technology, lends it a personality more akin to the gangster films of the 30′s and 40′s.  The acting and script are also like something right out of that time period, which gives not only a nostalgic feel to the film, but also a certain sense of realism.  It’s hard to explain without actually seeing the movie, but trust me: it’s there.  The sound design is equally impressive, although I almost cringed with the inaccuracy of the sound during one bank heist, in which a Tommy gun was fired repeatedly right next to someone’s ear, and the person could hear perfectly fine afterwords (and, while the gun was being fired, they didn’t even wince.  That would have most certainly ruptured an ear drum, ESPECIALLY considering the person in question was an older gentleman who was at least in his 60′s.)  While the gun sounds didn’t quite have the stark realism heard in Heat (another film by Michael Mann), they still avoided the muted and processed nonsense typically heard in movies.  One other thing to note about the sound: the volume of the dialogue compared to everything else is EXTREMELY low…it’s quite possible you will need to turn on the subtitles, otherwise you’ll be straining to hear people talking and will be going deaf when one of the numerous shootouts start.

The script and the acting were absolutely perfect for the type of film Public Enemies presents itself as; like I said before, it has the personality of a 1930′s or 40′s gangster movie.  It will be interesting to see how well this holds up during subsequent viewings, but as a big fan of movies like Little Caesar, Public Enemy, White Heat, etc, I’m happy to say Public Enemies really does hold up its end of the bargain when compared to its forefathers.

So, why do I feel this film should be a part of our (as of now, far too small) Rainy Day Movie series of articles?  Length, pacing, and subject matter.  Clocking in at 2 hours and 23 minutes, this is by no means a short film.  The overall gloomy disposition is accented perfectly by the sound of a storm outside your window, and the pacing (which ranges from owl-snot slow to cheetah-running fast) makes it a perfect film for cuddling up on your couch for an afternoon. 

Public Enemies isn’t necessarily excellent, but it’s definitely a film worth your time, especially if you’re into older gangster films.  Grab some popcorn, your nerdy loved-one, a blanket, and settle in for a couple of hours.  You’ll be glad you did.