A second trailer for Arthur featuring a topper donned Russell Brand and cardigan wearing Helen Mirren has arrived. Can the film possibly be as likeable as this footage implies?
Arthur is a remake of the much loved 1981 movie of the same name starring Dudley Moore. When this idea was announced in 2008 it is fair to say most folk dismissed it as another pointless rehash. Yet, judging by this and the recently released first trailer, it could be a lot of silly, if ultimately pointless fun. Brand as Arthur really does look superb, too. Costume designer Juliet Polcsa (Brooklyn’s Finest, 79 episodes of The Sopranos) and director Jason Winer have gone for the millionaire Lapo Elkann / Cecil Beaton gentry look, though swapping bowler hat for topper, as with Moore’s classic embodiment, instilling Arthur as undeniably upper class, while still winking at Brand’s ingrained ‘rock star’ image. Tilt that hat at an angle and suddenly you have a joker.
As Hobson, Helen Mirren is seemingly playing her butler/English nanny to Brand’s immature man-boy as a respectful update of John Gielgud in the original film. Alongside Arthur, Hobson is staid in grey woollens, ankle length skirts and twinsets, allowing her inherent sparkiness to stand out against the deliberately drab costumes.
Arthur himself is akin to a modern dandy. Embodying a spirit of rebellious self expression from the 1920s (if not the cut, which is more 1960s short jackets with 70′s lapels) with stripes and clashing colour combinations in soft fabrics, patterned silk scarves instead of neckties; he is radical in his own world. Arthur assumes the rest of society dresses like the Dead End Kids or a 19th century banker, making him the only eccentric; to us, however, he is just a wealthy oddball. Willy Wonka, then, if he lived in New York and never went into the chocolate business.
It will be fascinating to see how Brand’s costume is evolved throughout the film in line with the collapse of Arthur’s socio-economic status. The top hat and braces will surely go, as will those luxurious lounge jackets with contrast button cuffs. Tailored suits will likely become cargo slacks and a t-shirt. Will he lose his identity, or does shedding his sartorial iconography, at least temporarily, help Arthur to redefine his character? We’ll hopefully have some fun finding out.
Arthur is released on 8th April in the U.S. and 22nd April in the UK.
© 2011 – 2012, Christopher Laverty.