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Inspired by the murder of Jody Dobrowski in October 2005 who was beaten to death by two "gay-bashers" on Clapham Common. Dobrowski was beaten so badly, he could only be identified by his fingerprints, a detail that is echoed in the film. Both of Dobrowski's murderers received life sentences. See more »
30 degrees plus expected today. In fact, we could break the record which stands as the twelfth of June this year...
Look to the right.
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The problem with Kevin Elyot's (writer) and Adrian Shergold's (director) boldly ambitious "Clapham Junction" is that it attempts to bite off so much more than it can possibly chew in just under two hours. Elyot goes for an epic structure in an intimate setting. At times it looks like he's trying to cram in forty years of gay sexual history into a night and day and it just doesn't work. I wish I could have liked it more because there is so much here to admire and spread over, maybe six weekly episodes, he might have got away with it but as it stands it just doesn't ring true. This may well be down to Elyot's reliance on coincidence. All the characters seem to be inter-related. Nothing wrong with that, you might say; it has worked as a backdrop to many splendid dramas in the past but you have to suspend quite a lot of disbelief when in a city the size of London with a sizeable gay population, all the gay characters keep bumping into each other in clubs, public toilets, on Clapham Common itself or at dinner parties or just in living across the street from each other. It's a banal plot device and you can't help feeling Elyot would have made his point a lot better if the stories hadn't been connected.
Nor is Elyot particularly good at serving up dialogue that sounds believable or naturalistic. The characters either talk in sound-bites or are reduced to double-entendres. If he can get in a crass joke, he does and nobody comes out of it well. But at least he tries. There is hardly an aspect of gay life, (or of 'straight' society's reaction to it), that he leaves unexplored. He even gives us the self-loathing bit of gay trade who beats up his pick-up for the night, (and later gets beaten up himself), and the film's most successful story is the one between the pedophile and the fourteen year old boy who worships him, (this only let down by casting a twenty-three year old actor as the boy).
It is also very unevenly acted. There may be an in-joke of sorts in casting James Wilby and Rupert Graves, (the lovers from "Maurice"), Wilby as a closeted married man and Graves as an out and aging queen he eyes up in a toilet and later meets at a dinner party. Perhaps if these parts had been better written neither actor would have looked so foolish. The best performances come from Jospeh Mawle and Luke Tredaway as the pedophile and the boy and it's very much to their credit that they lift a very difficult subject and make it moving and oddly romantic. Detractors will, of course, find this story the most objectionable for obvious reasons although the producers have cushioned the blow by casting the obviously older Tredaway as the boy.
The film itself takes as its basis the real-life murder of Jody Dobrowski on Clapham Common in 2005 but the impact is weakened by the episodic structure. Ultimately "Clapham Junction" is neither fish nor fowl but an unwieldy hybrid. Its heart may be in the right place but you can't help but feel it does its subject, (whatever you take its subject to be), something of an injustice.
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