Gorgeous London settings, fitfully amusing Woody Allen imitation
Michael Binder the writer, director, and star of `Londinium' is clearly a Woody Allen wannabe. In my view that's not necessarily a bad thing. Unfortunately, this film is so derivative of Allen that one has to wonder why he isn't given due recognition in the credits. Contemporary London is here substituted for Allen's New York of the '70s and '80s. As in several of Allen's films of that period, the cityscape in `Londinium' dominates the film's cinematography, creating an urban tone poem of sorts as well as a sophisticated backdrop for the cross purpose comedy of courtship, sex, and marriage that constitutes the screenplay.
`Londinium' even brings back Mariel Hemingway, Woody's high school-aged love-interest in `Manhattan,' for a mid-life redaction of her earlier role. Binder himself seems to be auditioning for a part as `younger Woody' in a future Allen film. His character is a nearly complete borrowing of Woody's classic nebbish/lover/writer persona with a little Paul Reiser verbal inflection mixed in. The other two characters in the film's sexual foursome are played by the always-lovely-to-look at Irene Jacob, who provides the film's voiceover narrative for reasons that are never made clear, and Colin Firth (`Bridget Jones' Diary,' `Shakespeare in Love'), who once again offers up his unique (read: peculiar and off-putting) thuggish/romantic screen presence, taking it so far this time as to beating his friends and associates to a pulp whenever the impulse strikes. Actually, the fight impulse even overtakes the unlikely Ben Greene (the Binder character), producing an upper middle-class `Fight Club' scene that is supposed to be cathartic and funny, but just seems flat and dumb.
In addition to the leads, Stephen Fry (`Black Adder') has a very funny minor role as a proper British labor relations counselor who is pressed into unwilling service as a marriage/sex therapist. His scandalized reactions to some rather lurid confessions/accusations bandied by Jacob and Firth are the comic high point of an occasionally amusing, but mainly pretty dull and forgettable film.
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