Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Movie Review: LONDON FIELDS (2018)

Every once in a while, you come across a film that you know little, to nothing about, but it’s premise is so intriguing that you just have to check it out.  London Fields was that film for me.  Prior to four months ago, I had never even heard of this film, but after seeing the trailer and reading the synopsis, I knew it was something that I’d have to experience for myself.  And no matter what the critics say, and that includes myself, this is advice everyone should follow, as the subjectivity of film is what makes it such a beautiful experience.

London Fields tells the story of Nicola Six, a clairvoyant femme fatale who can see people’s deaths before they happen... including her own.  She meets three men - Samson Young, an aging writer desperately seeking inspiration for his next book; Guy Clinch, a rich aristocrat looking for happiness in his life; and Keith Talent, a ne’er-do-well with a penchant for playing darts - one of whom she knows will be her murderer.

I really dug this premise.  It sounded interesting and unique, and with the stacked cast it has, I felt like it would at least be a consistently interesting film.  Unfortunately, it falls a bit flat throughout, not quite living up to its potential.  I loved the idea of a modern neo-noir, which isn’t something you see too often.  And for the most part, it hit that tone beautifully.  But there were some uneven parts that pulled me out of the film at times, particularly the scenes with Keith (Jim Sturgess) toward the end.  They just didn’t fit for me.  It felt like a completely different movie with a huge tonal shift, which made it more difficult to get back into the rest of the film.  And even though I love Jim Sturgess, I felt like he was a bit too over-the-top with this character.

On the flip side of that, Theo James’ character, Guy Clinch, was a tad boring.  Only towards the  end did he start to liven up, but it was just too little, too late at that point.  I wish he had shown more passion throughout the course of the film.  I was also a bit turned off by his home life.  He has this almost psychotic child who he and his wife (played by Jaimie Alexander) don’t even seem to bother trying to handle.  It was a bit off putting, and the fact that he wasn’t actually played by a child was even more odd.  Also, I was excited to see Jaimie Alexander in this movie, but then disappointed by how she was so underutilized.  Even Cara Delevingne, who was also underutilized, had a better role here.  And we even get a little bit of Johnny Depp doing what he does best with another quirky, and somewhat intriguing character.

The other two main stars in this film were Amber Heard and Billy Bob Thornton as Nicola Six and Samson Young.  I actually liked both of their performances here, outside of some bad dialogue.  I felt for these characters.  I was interested in seeing their stories unfold, even if it was a bit predictable.  They had great chemistry with one another, especially during the scenes where they’re just hanging out talking.  It was refreshing to see them like this, in non-sexual situations, as most of the movie was centered around sexuality.  And speaking of the sexuality in this film, I was pleasantly surprised that it really didn’t feel tasteless to me.  It never got overly gratuitous, which can be difficult in a film like this.

One of the things I loved about this film, however, was the score.  The jazz noir music was a perfectly beautiful fit, which set the tone in a way that only music can.  Every time those saxophone notes would hit, it locked me in.  I’d love to see the film noir genre have a renaissance, bringing with it this infectious style of music.

Overall, I feel London Fields was a bit of a misstep, failing to live up to its full potential.  It has some redeeming qualities, but I just wish it had had a stronger structure, and a bit more character development.  If the premise and/or cast intrigues you at all, go see the film.  Judge for yourself.

The Merc’s Score: 5/10

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