Johnny Depp is too exhausting to sustain interest in Black Mass
The downside of Johnny Depp always doing weird voices and wearing elaborate makeup for his film roles is that it has killed the magic of his performances. I LOVED Johnny Depp for years and years—he was one of my favorites when I started writing for this site—but he has killed my appreciation for his art with his constant stream of weirdo performances and his scarfy evolution (scarfolution) into a parody of himself. Johnny Depp is the human equivalent of computer effects in movies—CGI has killed movie magic, and Depp’s parade of makeup-slathered roles has killed the magic of his performances. Because they were magic, no matter how weird the character or the premise of the movie, Depp always delivered authentic performances. He made the bizarre relatable, but he’s rendered that talent null by overusing it and exhausting our capacity as an audience to care about his latest fetishized weirdo.
Which is a shame, because Black Mass looks like a return to form, when Depp used makeup and accents more sparingly (starting with Edward Scissorhands in 1990 until Pirates of the Caribbean in 2003, less than half his performances were of the weirdo variety). But now, watching the Black Mass trailer, all I see is Depp in makeup AGAIN, with a hairpiece AGAIN, doing a weird voice AGAIN. It feels tired and un-special, which is a shame because the movie itself looks really good. It looks like what American Hustle could have been if American Hustle was a real movie and not a collection of one-man shows. Black Mass is premiering at the Venice Film Festival but will come out in September—not high award season. It has an Oscar-worthy pedigree with all the talent involved, but it says a lot about how little value is left in Depp’s affectations that it doesn’t have a more prominent release date later in the year.