It’s been almost a week since I watched Justin Kurzel’s latest film, True History of the Kelly Gang, and I’m happy to report it’s a return to form for him (we don’t talk about Assassin’s Creed, keep getting them checks) as he returns to Australia to examine the country’s most notorious outlaw. It is definitely his most bonkers film to date, telling you right up front they are taking liberties with the Ned Kelly story. There are multiple things about the film that remain in my head almost a week after watching it. It somehow succeeds even despite Ned Kelly being the least interesting character in most of the scenes. This film is admirably batshit, and only gets better the more it heads in that direction. The final shootout is absolutely haunting, searing nightmare images into your head. But what will remain in my mind for all time, and what will likely claim the title of the most glorious bit of acting of the year, is when Nicholas Hoult interrogates a baby at gunpoint.
For some context on what constitutes the most glorious bit of acting for the year: for example, the most glorious bit of acting last year belonged to Willem Dafoe in The Lighthouse when he has this lengthy monologue where he invokes the wrath of Poseidon on Robert Pattinson’s character because he said he didn’t like his cooking. And going back, in 2018 it was the lobster tank scene by Tom Hardy in Venom, and in 2017 it was Daniel Day-Lewis asking “Do you have a gun? You here to kill me?” in Phantom Thread. You see what we’re talking about here? Scenes that just somehow go ridiculous and right past camp to absolute glory. Nicholas Hoult interrogating a baby at gunpoint is the early frontrunner for the most glorious bit of acting this year, and it’s the highlight of a thoroughly great performance.
Over the past 5-7 years Nicholas Hoult has become an actor I always enjoy watching. Even when he’s the 10th guy on the bench in the X-Men films he’s still memorable. Really from Mad Max: Fury Road on he’s been crushing, he was cracking my shit up in The Favourite and I can’t wait to watch him play the villain in the next Mission: Impossible film. As Constable Fitzpatrick here, who begins as Ned’s friend and becomes his nemesis, Hoult comes off the bench in the 2nd and 3rd acts and just lights it up, totally owning every scene he’s in.
The third time you see Hoult in this film, he’s wearing nothing but sock garters and telling Ned Kelly about how great having sex in a dress is and that he should try it sometime. Like, this is where he gets started, and he only goes up from there. It should be noted, this film is joyfully brimming with delightful homoeroticism. Hoult, Charlie Hunnam and George MacKay all come razor-thin close to hanging dong in this film. The amount of opportunities to hang dong in this film just feels like a tease. Like, don’t show me porn and leave out the good bits. But anyways, there is a scene late in the movie where Nicholas Hoult, in desperation to find where Ned Kelly is hiding out, takes Ned’s wife’s baby and interrogates it at gunpoint.
I don’t know how to describe this scene, I have no insight to add about it, I just want you to know that there is a scene in this film where Nicholas Hoult interrogates a baby at gunpoint. If that doesn’t get you to rent this shit on VOD, I don’t know what will. You and me might simply not be the same. It takes a special kind of actor to stick a landing in a scene as ridiculous as interrogating a baby at gunpoint. Hoult is that special kind of actor. That’s what I’m getting at here, Hoult has proven beyond any doubt that he is one of the greats by fully committing to a scene where he interrogates a baby at gunpoint. It’s the frontrunner for the most glorious bit of acting this year, and will likely keep that title since we only have like 5 other films coming out this year. Give this man his awards.