Tony is a beautifully shot drama, centering on the titular character - a teenager who is caught up in a gang of troublesome boys as he deals with his status as 1980s Spanish immigrant to France, while living under an abusive father. With striking visuals and a carefully picked soundtrack, Hugo Diego Garcia brings us back to the Scarface and The Outsiders era of film in the 80s. The brash dialogue and costumes of the period add to the gangster 80s feel.
At its core, Tony is a coming of age story. Like normal teenage boys, Tony hangs out all day with his friends, makes out with girls, fights with other boys, and rebels against his parents. Infused in this narrative are the themes of alienation and violence. As part of an immigrant family, Tony faces discrimination from the community and finds a feeling of belonging in a gang of other Spanish immigrant boys. We can sense the isolation of these boys, even when they are together, through wide shots void of other characters and objects. It feels empty when they are outdoors but cozy when they are indoors sharing a meal or drinking. In a memorable dance sequence, it is almost as if they are the only people in the world. The presence of violence is a threat in most scenes, even when the gang is just hanging out, and it is hard to separate Tony and his friends from physical clashes. This could be because of the implied presence of physical abuse in their upbringing. Regardless, violence becomes a way for Tony and his gang to deal with the alienation they feel in society.
The real draw in this film is Tony himself. Garcia, who also plays the lead character successfully captures the layered Tony. He is at once troubled, caring, a short fuse, insecure, charming, eager to please, and lonely. Though we witness Tony making bad decisions again and again, we can’t help but empathize with him. We can’t help but want him to turn his life around.
In Tony, we see a burgeoning auteur in Garcia. He has a keen eye for the way an audience sees film visually and he really brings us to a world of his own making. Tony’s world is familiar, yet alien, and we are captivated, not just by the main character, but by the landscapes that the story takes place in. Tony is a successful piece on a troubled adolescence that enraptures our senses.
Review written by Vlad A.G