By John Darley
Last year, Danish film director Nicolas Winding Refn made one of the best films of 2011 with Drive. He was also responsible for bringing British actor Tom Hardy into the Hollywood limelight with his biopic of notorious prisoner Charles Bronson. Now, he’ll be re-visiting one of his earlier works by jumping in as executive producer in the British re-make of his 1996 film Pusher. Richard Coyle (W.E. and Prince of Persia) plays a big time London drug pusher and, at first, everything seems to be going good for him in the business world of narcotics.
However, it’s only when one of his get rich quick schemes turns upside down and he’s left to pay a hefty sum to one of London’s ruthless drug lords. Though there’s been very little changed in terms of the plot, which might be of disappointment to the diehard Refin fans out there, director, Luis Prieto, gave his vision a more stylistic approach, rather than the gritty documentary style of Denmark’s underworld in the 1996 original. Though in an interview with the director he believed that this was, for him, a much better way of handling the film’s image: “The further I get away stylistically from Nicolas’s film the better.
“Initially I didn’t want to do a remake of such a great film. But then when they gave me the script they said they didn’t want to just make a straight remake. It did take me a while to say yes but I was looking forward to doing an English-language film.” In order to keep as far away from the original film, Prieto decided to not allow any of the cast to watch the 96 version, and for those who had already seen it to try to forget everything they remember from it. When discussing his role, lead actor, Richard Coyle says that he was happy that the director took this approach. “I had decided that actually it would not help in any way, watching the original.
“I am trying to create a character myself and I know that Nicolas’s film is a big cult favourite.
“Also, I think from my chats with Luis before we started, I got a strong feeling that this would be a different film.” With Pusher being Prieto’s first UK made film, he was able to give his own take on a subject that’s been overdone and over stylised in recent years. Prieto stated that he wanted the main focus to be on the relationships; the protagonist holds with his girlfriend and the other people that are close to him. “I wanted to put the audience in the protagonist’s shoes,” says Prieto. “Nicolas’s Film had almost a documentary feel and I didn’t want that. I wanted to understand more of the protagonist and to do that through the girlfriend, Flo. “One of the things I remember about the original film is that though the main character’s girlfriend closes the story. “You didn’t really care too much about her, and couldn’t really remember her relationship with the protagonist. I thought if I Could work on that then that would give us something new and different.”
“Instead of making it another East End gangster tale with boys and guns and drugs, we have a European filmmaker, an outsider here, which helps him to make it a more human story.” The film still has the dark and menacing tones that’s found in Refin’s version and with full support from its original maker, turning down a US offer to make it into a television series and sanctioning it into a re-make, Pusher looks to keep us entertained while we wait for Refin’s next feature film, Only God Forgives, which is currently in post production.
Pusher is out in cinemas on 12 October