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Rhys Ifans is Howard Marks, the titular Mr. Nice, in Bernard Rose's biopic of the amiable international marijuana dealer.
Maybe you've read Howard Marks' autobiography, Mr. Nice, cover to cover. Or maybe you've seen it perched cheekily a-top the toilet cistern in a studenty type of residence and dipped into the first few pages. All you really need to know about the film's literary origins is that the book was marijuana kingpin Howard Marks' story in his own words. The film cleaves pretty closely to this largely uncritical perspective on the man who improbably went from dealing a bit of dope at Oxford University to allegedly controlling an impressive 10 per cent of the world's hashish trade, before doing time in prison.
Rhys Ifans plays Marks, a serendipitous piece of casting that makes the most of Ifans' hangdog charms, and he looks utterly at ease in a role that provides a happy-go-lucky flipside to the more moving and melancholic slacker-type he embodied in the same year's Greenberg. Like the drug whose values Marks extols, Bernard Rose's film sits at the milder end of the spectrum - this is a drug-movie largely free of the nihilistic angst of those other student staples Requiem For A Dream or the dead ceiling-babies of Trainspotting.
Like its protagonist, nice - rather than, say, magnificent - is the watchword here, but it's a pleasant enough trip, man, with a likeable performance from shambly old Rhys Ifans in the title role.
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On Film4: 04 April 2015