The Bikeriders, a drama written and directed by Jeff Nichols (2011’s Take Shelter, 2012’s Mud and 2016’s Loving), kicked off the 50th Telluride Film Festival on Thursday afternoon as the fest’s annual Patron’s Preview screening at the Werner Herzog Theatre.
A $40 million adaptation of Danny Lyon’s 1968 book of the same name, the film, which is set for a Dec. 1 theatrical release from 20th Century Studios (aka Disney), depicts the rise and fall of a Chicago biker “club” between the years of 1965 and 1973, as recounted by the love interest (Jodie Comer) of one of the bikers (Austin Butler) who is as committed to the group and its leader (Tom Hardy) as he is to her.
A well-made and engaging period piece that has the feel of David Chase’s forays into cinema, 2012’s Not Fade Away and 2021’s The Many Saints of Newark, with in-your-face accents, violence and a “family” of men at its center, it seems to me that its primary awards prospect is Comer’s performance, which could plausibly compete for a nomination in either the leading or supporting actress category.
Sounding like Mike Ditka and looking completely unlike the Killing Eve character for which she won an Emmy, the 30-year-old actress — who is coming off a Tony earlier this year for one of the greatest performances I’ve ever seen on Broadway, in the one-woman show Prima Facie, and who may have come close to an Oscar nom two years ago for her turn in The Last Duel — again completely transforms herself, and really carries the picture.
The ensemble of men are all solid, but they largely portray strong, silent types doing a version of Marlon Brando in The Wild One, the 1953 biker film which is acknowledged in the film. She gives the film heart.