Monday, November 30, 2009

Under 250: Franklyn

Strange, beautiful, and ultimately disappointing. it may be impossible to watch Franklyn without seeing everything that could have been. Driven by split narratives, the film's stories divide it between modern London and the eerie steampunk Victorian juxtaposition of Meanwhile City. The characters, each captivating in their own right, seem linked by invisible threads of destiny or insanity, but the film never makes it clear which is intended. Franklyn seems to be building a thesis on religion, art, and individual spirit on the notion that they're related, but without the deeper thought needed to pull itself together. It's too bad, really, because the visuals are striking, the acting is solid, and the film has an undeniable momentum and atmospheric strength that's a shame to waste. As individual stories, the pieces work. It may be safe to say that Franklyn should have been 2-3 different films, and that its failure arises out of first time director Gerald McMorrow's stubborn desire to force his puzzle pieces to fit. Ryan Phillipe's delusional vigilante creates a rift in the cohesion of twisted entanglement between Eva Green's delightfully deranged suicide artist and Sam Riley's (who brilliantly portrayed Ian Curtis in Control) lovelorn meanderer. Green & Riley's connections are revealed slowly, and they don't need the dystopian elements of Meanwhile City to aid their tale. As i watched the story slowly come together, i found myself repeatedly thinking my own solutions were more interesting than what was eventually revealed. Overall, while it's visually striking, i'm not sure the people who made Franklyn really knew what they were shooting for, and that's rarely a good sign.

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