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I've just come back from the premiere at the London film festival and
I've thoroughly enjoyed, it but before I say anything, do not expect it
to be "a mix between V for Vendetta and the Dark knight" which is a
complete nonsense I read earlier, it's nothing like it.
In fact, the sci fi element is only a small (albeit crucial) part to the story, most of it taking place in present day London.
It's more of a psychological drama, a bit of a slow starter as well until all the pieces are put together and it starts making sense. To be honest the less you know about the story, the better otherwise it will ruin your enjoyment
The acting is excellent, I would say it really is Eva Green's movie, she shines throughout the movie with a rather difficult role and is absolutely beautiful. Sam Riley and Ryan Philippe are very good too although they have a little less material to play with.
I think it's going to be hard sell as it is unlike anything I have seen, and if they try to market it as an action/sci fi movie, it will be very misleading but I still definitely recommend it if you're looking for something a bit different.
Yes, it's a slow, slow build-up featuring seemingly unconnected story
threads, fantastical settings and comic-book characterisation. Yes,
it's all a bit of a muddle at times, and plays like the disconnected
fast-cut chapters of a cynically devise modern supermarket bestselling
But it's different.
Not out-there different, just stoically different from the average Hollywood committee-designed faux art-slice. It's a film that refuses to bend to the will of popular expectation and also to the viewer's clamouring desire for exposition.
For that it's to be applauded; it seems remarkable it managed mainstream distribution given the fact so many will be 'bored' ('man') awaiting the connections to satisfy their anticipation.
And you may well gather what's going on before it's explained (with a little ultimate dubiety) on screen, but this is still a well-executed piece of cinema with a solid cast that dares to offer something a little different to current lame traits after seemingly setting itself up as just another by-the-numbers collage.
Clever at times, atmospheric, beautifully shot with a good cast. Worth, nay deserving, of a watch as a mild antidote to patronising Hollywood mainstream. A solid seven out of ten.
I've seen a few movies similar to this, using sci-fi/fantasy imagery to
portray an internal state of mind. Too intellectual for some I guess,
and it definitely goes beyond 'what you see is what you get'.
This movie worked for me. Some have been critical that the characters in the film were not interesting enough. I on the other hand think the director/writer Gerald McMorrow successfully walked the thin line of saying just enough, enabling the actors to fill in the gaps and create personas rather than cookie cut-outs. The characters were memorable and real, responding to slightly surreal situations in two worlds that were both out of kilter with our own. The movie's alternate realities drew me in and kept me interested, and the eventual juxtaposition of both did so even more.
This is a smartly made movie - with very convincing CGI for the fantasy world combined with an almost indie sense of the intimate and human in the alternate world closer to our own.
Well this review is not much of a blow-by-blow synopsis, others can do that, but if you appreciate strong acting, and an imaginative script, I don't think you will be disappointed.
I have just got back from watching Franklyn at the London Film
Festival, and let me tell you, this film is truly something special. A
cleverly co-ordinated lesson in narrative structure, the plot revolves
around 4 different people, delivered in 4 different strands of plot,
one of which exists in somewhere a little futuristic called "Meanwhile
City". Each of the four are all trying to fix something in their lives.
++DONT WORRY I SHALL NOT BE Writing ANY SPOILERS HERE+++ At first, my
mind was drawn to the film V for Vendetta - the masked vigilante
(played very well by Ryan Phillipe, holding his own in a predominantly
British cast) seemed to be a similar character, complete with
voice-over, telling us the troubles of Meanwhile City. But soon the
other plot strands filter in and it becomes far more than a
Vendetta-lite imitation, with a narrative structure very similar in
delivery to Magnolia, or Gomorrah. However, the director here never
makes it confusing as to who is who, with a definite and focused script
keeping the four strands together very well.
All the other stories are set in contemporary London. My favourite was the story with Sam Riley's character. His bride to be has left him and he is finding ways of dealing with his grief. Elsewhere, Bernard Hill plays a man searching for his son who has (mysteriously) gone missing. The other story strand involves Eva Green as a troubled artist with a penchant for frequently attempting suicide.
Whilst the photography and direction in the film is brilliantly vivid and bold, and the cast are wonderfully believable, what really sold this film for me was the story itself. Intriguing, exciting, thoughtful, often very moving, and most of all, constantly surprising, Franklyn is by far the most fiercely intelligent and engaging film i have watched in a very long time. The final 10 minutes are simply amazing and very, very clever (dont read ANYTHING about it though!) Make sure to watch Franklyn when it comes out (the LFF was a lucky early screening, I am told it could be out in January at the cinemas nationwide). BUT WHATEVER YOU DO MAKE SURE NO ONE TELLS YOU ANYMORE THAN THE SYNOPSIS TELLS YOU! else you will not experience the joy of watching the story unravel and reveal itself for its truths. Thank you to all involved in creating something so utterly unique in its execution.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
It's not fair to criticise just for the sake of it, but it's not
possible to state my criticisms without spoilering the movie big-time.
So if you don't want to read spoilers, stop here.
We have four seemingly unconnected story threads. One concerns a man called Preest (Ryan Phillippe) wearing a full-face hood in a dystopic alternative reality place called Meanwhile City, where he expects to carry out an assassination. The second concerns Esser (Bernard Hill), travelling from Cambridge to London in search of his son. The third concerns Emilia (Eva Green), carrying out suicide attempts as a kind of performance art project. The fourth involves Milo (Sam Riley), moping around with all sorts of personal problems following his wedding not taking place. These threads limp slowly onwards with nothing much happening until the two-thirds mark at which point we finally begin to find stuff out (spoilers start here). We discover that Preest is actually Esser's son, that he is a mentally disturbed serviceman who has escaped from a mental hospital, killing someone as he did so, and that Meanwhile City is nothing but a highly detailed delusion. And we discover that Milo has had an imaginary friend Sally since childhood who helps him through bad times: played by Eva Green in a bad red wig, she has now put in a reappearance. Things come to a conclusion when Preest invades Emilia's flat in order to carry out the assassination of his father (who is someone else in Preest's fantasy) in the restaurant across the road. Preest shoots and wounds Milo (who has accepted that fantasy Sally doesn't really exist) and blows himself up in Emilia's flat. Emilia (who, of course, looks like Sally, what with Eva Green playing both of them) and Milo, both wounded (both physically and psychologically, see, I got that) stumble into each other's arms, the end.
I have no problem with movies which present narratives in fantasy and real worlds, where the former can be explained by reference to the latter (Wizard of Oz, A Matter of Life and Death etc.). Neither do I have a problem with stories where seemingly disconnected threads twine together by the conclusion - after all, if you track back any incident in real life to origin points in the lives of participants, then take those as individual starting points, you will end up with something which looks like coincidence.
My problems came from something rather more fundamental. Number one, the four stories simply weren't very good. For much of the film I found myself thinking "When these threads finally make contact with each other, the payoff had better be spectacular if it's going to justify sitting through this tedium." Well, the payoff was distressingly inadequate.
Number two, while I don't have any problem with coincidence per se, I do like my coincidences to be credible. The denouement here required three certifiable nutjobs (schizo soldier, suicidal art student, full-on imaginary befriender) to wind up in the same place at the same time for no reason other than coincidence. Pull the other one, do.
Number three, you could have removed Milo's thread completely and it would have had no effect on the rest of the movie. That shows how completely inconsequential it was in terms of narrative importance.
Heaven knows I'm not a very demanding film-goer - I'm easily pleased, and have thoroughly enjoyed movies which have come in for some heavy duty criticism. But I do like to be entertained and I don't like being bored. This film bored me and failed to entertain me and left me feeling distinctly unsatisfied. I got the impression that the film thought it was a great deal cleverer than I thought it was. I encourage potential viewers to read Will Wright's criticisms - a well-reasoned critique from someone who knows what he's talking about.
Bernard Hill was excellent: his character was boring. Eva Green was excellent: her character Emilia wasn't boring (Sally was, though). She was sexy and deeply worrying - she can be very scary. She was much more scary than Ryan Phillippe who left no impression on me at all. Neither did Sam Riley.
Oh, and who or what is Franklyn? I know Bernard Hill queried seeing the name on some document or other (with no explanation or clarification), but did I miss it being mentioned elsewhere?
The best film I have seen this year so far, its so brilliantly strange
and such a brain-teasingly satisfying film to watch.
The film is a sci-fi thriller/drama about four characters dealing with problems in their life, from Eva Greens character who is a suicidal artist to Sam Riley's character whose bride ran away at the altar. These characters parts of the film are set in modern day London and their struggles may seem uninteresting at first but once the films pace sets in their stories take on as much importance as the real main character Preest. Jonathon Preest, the mysterious loner of the films alternate reality, Meanwhile City, is the only atheist in a city gripped by Faith, where every resident must have a religion which lends weight to the films plot and themes.
All the cast were very good at their parts, Phillippe does well as Preest without going into deep voiced batman territory and Eva Green portrays her very flawed character with enough humanity to keep you interested without becoming fed up with her characters behaviour.
The film constantly switches between the two settings, to both dramatic effect and to keep the film moving at a solid pace that should have you guessing at the link between all the characters and how the alternate reality of Meanwhile city ties in with them. Meanwhile City itself is a stunning and darkly captivating location for the other half of the film and provides the visual cement to the films concepts and makes for some of the most inventive design I've seen in sets and costumes for a long time. Its a Gothic vision of skyscrapers and futuristic landscapes with inspiration from cathedrals and ancient architecture.
Its safe to say that you shouldn't let anyone spoil the films twists or plot for you, because its twists often seem predictable before hand but upon their realisation they can be quite surprising reveals.
For those familiar with films such as Donnie Darko, the ideas driving the film may seem to be done and dusted but Franklyn's fresh approach to the concepts as well as its stunning execution make this film worthy of anyone looking to engage their thoughts in some very interesting concepts regarding, reality and perception. Go out and watch this film, it's conclusion will linger with you for days after wards.
There are movies that, despite their lack of budget and film-makers'
experience within the medium of filmdespite their failings in telling
a coherent, and entertaining story, nevertheless excel in their ability
to enthral through idea and theme alone. Franklyn which too often sets
out in this manner, in turn neglecting engaging narrative for
contorted, mystery-tinged manipulation, is not one of those select few
features. Restricted by a small budget and the director and writers'
inexperience with feature length productions, the film is interesting
to a certain degree but too often falls flat when trying to compel the
viewer either through character or plot. Indeed, the only sole reason
to continue watching a film such as Franklyn is to find out what the
hell is going on; and then you get to that finish line only to realise
that the payoff isn't quite what you expected. The result is a feature
that feels half-baked, underdeveloped and frustratingly vague for its
first two acts. So much so that by the time director Gerald McMorrow
decides to show us his hand, we've more or less left the table and
cashed in our chips.
The problem with Franklyn isn't that it is short on ideas, but that it is short on ideas upon which to implement the themes and arcs to which McMorrow obviously wants to get across. For sure, this is an original, interesting and intriguing piece of work; but it's also dreary and tiresome at the same time. First time viewers should not be alarmed if plot details go amiss, or if the story seems overly convoluted, disconnected and a little contrivedbecause this is exactly how McMorrow pens his tale. It's deliberately withholding for a reason, and that is because without that sense of mysticism and deliberate manipulation, Franklyn is a mirthless experience. Taken on face value in retrospect, the ninety minutes doesn't feel completely wasted, but there is a certain degree of fallacy involved here that comes off as cheap and overly ambitious. Indeed, this is a bold effort from the first-time filmmaker, and one has to applaud such an audacious venturebut it's also very hard to be convinced by Franklyn either in its grandiose tale, or its dubiously surreal and contorted narrative.
For the majority of the feature, we are treated to four stories revolving around four separate characters split over what appears to be two very different timelines of alternate dimensions (this is, of course, merely a subjective speculation on the part of myself, as the truth behind the events of the film are never truly explainedand fair enough, I suppose). Each of the characters have their own little quirks; Emilia (Eva Green) is an extremist artist driven to video-tape serial suicide attempts made by herself; Milo (Sam Riley), a romantic who has recently been left at the alter; a masked vigilante named Preest (Ryan Phillippe) who occupies the alternate reality within a city named "Meanwhile City" ruled by religion and dogmatic oppression; and a father in search of his son gone missing after a traumatic event involving his sister's death.
At first, all the characters within Franklyn's two worlds seem distinct from each other, and without and form of linkso much so that much of the feature's initial hour is slow moving and irksomely disjointed from any sort of clear focus or direction to the first time viewer. Yet as the plot unravels, and metaphysical realities are explored with death, imaginary friends and delusional beliefs briefly analysed, the seeds that are planted during the initial acts begin to blossom. It is disappointing then that by the time McMorrow pulls the proverbial rug on us, we don't really care anymore. Confined also by the limitations of such vague narrative and an ending that brings everything together in a poetic but fruitless manner, Franklyn eventually crumbles under its own weight and pretension. It's a movie that tries too hard to be larger than it really is on paper, and the cracks are all too obvious.
In the end, I wanted to like McMorrow's work here a lot more than I actually didit's brave, interesting and makes some intriguing statements on the nature of reality and our perceptions of such manifestations to ourselves as human beings; but at the end of the day I couldn't bring myself to be convinced or won over by the implementation of such ideas. For sure, there was potential here within the bare-bones skeleton of McMorrow's premise and themesbut burdened with obstructive restrictions both in a narrative sense and a production sense, Franklyn simply never comes off the page like it should, and the result is lukewarm in every regard; sporadically intriguing, but overly flawedI have to wonder why this made the big screen at all; I got the feeling that it could have made an even better mini-series for TV.
- A review by Jamie Robert Ward (http://www.invocus.net)
Was a bit wary of this one - had read comments about it being
pretentious and a little too clever for it's own good.
No need to worry on either front.
Thought it was excellent - beautifully shot, fabulous performances by all involved and the story comes together wonderfully. The parallel world of Meanwhile City is simply stunning.
Think you have to be able to go with it for the first half - and allow it time to start unfolding. This may frustrate some, but it definitely has a sense of balance and shows enough to keep your attention without over-elaborating unnecessary plot strands.
Really hope it does well... it's shows bigger budget, mainstream multiplex fodder how it could, and should, be done.
This movie really is difficult. Not only to describe (it is far too
complex for it's own good/commercial success), but also to watch and
follow the plot. While there have been other movies who played with the
time factor (and/or other stuff, which I won't say anything about here,
so it won't spoil anything for you), not many refused to explain
themselves to you.
In other words: While many other movies with the same or similar theme, show you the same scenes twice (or maybe even more often), this movie does not give you this luxury. You have to stay focused to get it. Of course the main plot and the big details will be easy to grab. But again, only if you let yourself into the movie. But this movie allows you to watch it a few times and catch nuances, small things, you might not have seen/understood, the previous time(s) you watched the movie. A complex, but rewarding viewing experience then
Reading a synopsis of the film, I feared that it would be full on
sci-fi ... but thankfully there were two strands - one set in
contemporary London, and another of the more fantasy version ...
It really is the sort of film where knowing too much about the plot before seeing it, will spoil. I would say that if you like films where all the strands are nicely tied up at the end, you will be frustrated. A few of the strands are resolved, but I still can't work out what a couple of the characters were up to !
Eva Green has the largest role, and is mostly good, but at times she seems a bit wooden. Sam Riley was quite convincing as a bit of a loser, and Ryan Phillippe seemed to enjoy his masked role.
I saw the premiere at The London Film Festival and the director explained that some of the sci-fi imagery was based on the spires of Cambridge. Ryan Phillippe said that he did indeed act in all the masked shots, even those where he fights the "clerics" - having studied martial arts since he was eight !
This film will make you think, but be prepared for a gradual exposition, rather than any great revelations.
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