It is 1888 in London, and the unfortunate poor lead horrifying lives in the city's deadliest slum, Whitechapel. Harassed by gangs and forced to walk the streets for a living, Mary Kelly and her small group of companions trudge on through this daily misery, their only consolation being that things can't get any worse. Yet things somehow do when their friend Ann is kidnapped and they are drawn into a conspiracy with links higher up than they could possibly imagine. The kidnapping is soon followed by the gruesome murder of another woman, Polly, and it becomes apparent that they are being hunted down, one by one. Sinister even by Whitechapel standards, the murder grabs the attention of Inspector Fred Abberline, a brilliant yet troubled man whose police work is often aided by his psychic abilities. Abberline becomes deeply involved with the case, which takes on personal meaning to him when he and Mary begin to fall in love. But as he gets closer to the truth, Whitechapel becomes more and ...
A dark and meticulous tale, based around the murders of Jack the Ripper in Whitechapel, London. The films look is no more than what you would expect from a one based on Jack the Ripper. Dark shadows loom over the characters as the satanic nature of The Ripper is emphasised. It's such an intriguing story and character that every time I watch a film based on this story I come away slightly disappointed. This time was no exception. While the acting was good (minus some quite unconvincing cockney accents - Heather Graham and Johnny Depp, I'm talking to you) and the direction assured, the script seemed a little reserved. There was no great insight into any of the characters, and much of it played out like a simple murder mystery. But this didn't stop me from enjoying the 120 or so minutes.
Why did I enjoy this film, I hear you ask? For a start, the direction was superb - the streets of London looked grimy, while the `unfortunates' (i.e., prostitutes) wandered around in squalor awaiting their fate. This produced a wonderful atmosphere, creating murder scenes that were much more terrifying and shocking (and very gruesome). Johnny Depp's performance (as the detective Abberline), as always, was hugely enjoyable to watch. He played his character in a very subtle way - halfway between comic and serious. He portrays a desperate man, constantly resorting to drugs so he can pass through the day. Depp and the filmmakers see him as a version of Sherlock Holmes, constantly finding clues that other police officers have overlooked (cliched, yes, but somehow Depp provides a little bit of originality). Abberline even suggests that the killer must be a learned man! How could this be?! While dismissed by all the other characters in the film (for a learned man would never commit acts of such debauchery), we as an audience know better not to trust a detective like this - their preposterous ideas are usually right. Another actor to praise in this is the wonderful Ian Holm. He plays his character with a wry little smile, seemingly enjoying every line he says. His interactions with Depp are great to watch.
While the film provides little to ponder on once the credits have rolled, you can leave satisfied that you have seen a stylish and enjoyable film. The Hughes brothers seem to be a talented pair of directors.
For those that care I gave this film 7/10
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