Review by Jack Foley
FIRST and foremost, director Gerald McMorrow deserves credit for making one of the most visually distinctive British films of recent years. Franklyn is an eye-catching movie in many ways… all the more so when you consider it was made on such a limited budget.
It isn’t without flaws, and is nowhere near as clever as it thinks it is, but you have to admire the scope of McMorrow’s ambition, as well as the talent it took to assemble such a first-rate cast.
Set between the parallel worlds of contemporary London and the futuristic metropolis of Meanwhile City, Franklyn weaves a tale of four lost souls, whose lives are intertwined by fate, romance and tragedy.
In Meanwhile City, an enigmatic, masked stranger named Preest (Ryan Philippe) hunts the leader of a ruthless organisation, while attempting to stay one step ahead of the Ministry. In London, meanwhile, a loner called Milo (Sam Riley) attempts to come to terms with being jilted at the altar, a suicide artist Emilia (Eva Green) attempts to express herself, and a father (Bernard Hill) searches for his missing Army son.
McMorrow’s film places all four on a collision course and flits between the surreal environment of Meanwhile City and a heightened version of London. In doing so, he takes us on an engaging emotional journey that’s fittingly described as “an urban fairytale for our cynical times”.
But while some viewers may have trouble buying into every scenario that McMorrow creates, and will be able to see the end coming a long way off, there’s still plenty of enjoyment to be found in discovering McMorrow’s artistic and cinematic reference points, as well as his eye for a stylish set piece.
Philippe is a compelling presence as the masked Preest, and the film is arguably at its most riveting while in Meanwhile City, but Riley makes good on the fantastic potential he showed in Control, and Hill lends the film most of its heart as the most grounded of the central characters.
Green, on the other hand, struggles to win our sympathy, even though her performance is typically strong.
Franklyn won’t be to everyone’s tastes and does require a leap of faith for the early part of its journey, but it does establish McMorrow as an interesting new British filmmaking talent whose future projects should now be keenly anticipated. Visually, it also demands to be seen on the big screen.
Running time: 97mins
UK DVD & Blu-ray Release Date: June 22, 2009
- Buy it on DVD (Amazon)
- Buy it on Blu-ray (Amazon)
- Read our review
- Gerald McMorrow interview
- Franklyn photo gallery
- Franklyn UK Premiere photo gallery