Thursday, April 21, 2011

Franklyn

NetFlix
IMDB
My Rating: 6/10  

In the futuristic Meanwhile City, a masked vigilante (Ryan Phillippe) seeks out his nemesis while in contemporary London, an art student (Eva Green) attempts to kill herself, a heartbroken lover (Sam Riley) looks for someone new and a father (Bernard Hill) searches for his son. Writer-director Gerald McMorrow's sci-fi drama follows these desperate individuals as their lives become intertwined by fate.

A very odd movie, but one which I think most everyone here would enjoy with a few caveats. For starters, it's NOT a superhero/SF/action flick, despite what posters and categories and trailers might suggest - It's a contemporary psychological drama set mostly in modern day London. The posters and ads seem to focus on the action aspects of a masked mystery man in Meanwhile City, and while he is the crux of the movie, don't go into this expecting Batman or Watchmen. It's more like a surreal fusion of Brazil, Dark City, and a BBC character drama. The SF/superhero aspect of it is only one slice of story out of multiple concurrent tales.

In modern London, a troubled young artist plans suicide, a young man is jilted at the altar and develops an obsession for a childhood sweetheart, and a father searches frantically for his lost son. In Meanwhile City, something straight out of a Gilliam-verse, a Rorschach-esque masked vigilante roams the streets, ostracized because he is an atheist in a city where everyone has to have a religion by law. He stalks his enemy, a child murderer, while being pursued by the agents of the church/government.

It's a weird mix for a movie. The modern day stories are intriguing and good in their own right, but can't help but be overshadowed by the weirdness of Meanwhile City, where everyone has a religion and change them regularly (I was particularly fond of the Seventh Day Manicurists). 
It isn't on the level of Brazil by a long shot but it does have some wicked dark humor in it, in the Meanwhile City sections. In fact, I was wishing they'd spent more time there and fleshed out the city more, because the little bits of it that we get are wonderfully weird.

Here is another film that you'll watch for one hour wondering WTF is going on and if these stories will ever connect, but they do, eventually. In fact, I thought the ending was just a little bit TOO twee compared to the preceding, but the threads do tie together in interesting fashion. I can't say, "This is awesome, you MUST run out and watch it", but I can say, "It is worth seeing and won't disappoint if you don't go in expecting a superhero action film."
There are no superhero antics. Well, there is one slow-mo fight scene that sticks out in a pretty dumb "300" way but it's mercifully brief. I almost wonder if it was included just for the trailer, since the rest of the violence is quite realistic and of the "Gonna break this bar stool over your head" variety. Mostly it seemed to be a dark psychological drama that the promoters looked at and said, "Hey, if we focus on this masked guy we'll bring in all the Watchmen audience and the teens", so the promotional material for it makes it look VERY different than it is. 

Worth seeing. 





Suggested Accompaniment:   Black sandblasted churchwarden.  Or even a clay - I don't say this often about any movies made after 1949 but this would work well as a clay pipe movie, especially if you're lucky enough to have one of the artistic creations of French artisan Gerard Prungnaud.  Let me load up my Prungnaud calabash with some Gawith Bracken Flake, pour a mug of Black Chocolate Stout, and I'm a happy hobbit.