When London Boulevard’s Mitchel is released from a three year stretch at Pentonville he fully intends to do the right thing. To turn his back on his underworld past and shake off the ties that bind him to the tower blocks and petty crime of a London he left behind.
Reclusive movie star Charlotte is a prisoner in her Holland Park mansion, trapped by the paparazzi and the ghosts of her own past. The two are drawn to one another and dare to imagine a future beyond the London they have grown to despise. Finding comfort in stolen moments together they tentatively take the first steps towards a new life. Mob boss Gant despises the thought of losing Mitchel to the straight and narrow – he’d rather see him dead than redeemed. Despite himself Mitchel is seduced by the prospect of battle, he has no intention of going down without a fight and when first blood is drawn he steps up to the front line prepared to take the fight all the way to the top. Damn it feels good to be a gangster!
London Boulevard pairs prettily pouting powerhouses Colin Farrell and Keira Knightly in a loose reworking of the Sunset Boulevard story written and directed by The Departed’s William Monaghan based upon Ken Bruen’s noir crime novel. Their supporting cast boast equal star power with David Thewlis, Stephen Graham and Anna Friel joining Ray Winstone’s Gant in the gangland love story. Rather than fear the encroaching grip of age, in this particular Boulevard Charlotte is terrified of the price she has paid for her fame. She has one true friend in druggie luvvie Jordan (David Thewlis) who, though a failure as an actor, has been a greater success as her companion and protector. But Jordan is quick to recognise that he needs a helping hand and he brings Mitchel into their home and their lives setting in motion a chain reaction that dominoes destruction through the lives of anyone Mitchel has ever known.
I will open on a positive note by saying that David Thewlis’s performance in London Boulevard was an absolute delight. That man gives good sharp-witted stoner! Sadly though it is here we must bid a fond farewell to positive thought as every other thing I have to say about London Boulevard is well…not so good. You will doubtless hear numerous accounts and re-enactments of Colin’s comedy cockney accent this week. It would be cruel of me to dwell on it further here and tacky to make even passing reference to Dick Van Dyke. So I shan’t. I will, however, point out that Ben Chaplin’s accent is equally preposterous and just as worthy of the world’s derision. And as for Mr Winstone…
It’s a shame about Ray, a sad, sad, shame. He should never have been allowed within a hundred feet of this script and I’d advise him to re-enact a little Gant-vengeance on anyone who failed to tear the pen from his brawny fist when he signed on the dotted line. I’m as big a fan of angry swearing Ray as the next girl when the C-words are spewing from Nil by Mouth or Sexy Beast yet onscreen here the profanity was gratuitous, lazy and dull and that is inexcusable.
I’m sorry to say I wasn’t very impressed by London Boulevard. I found the premise implausible and the film ultimately rather unpleasant. The talented cast were thrust aside by a convoluted and lazy story which flounced onscreen with yob bravado, pogoed aimlessly for 104 minutes and shuffled off without troubling its viewers with anything like original content or the will to care. I suspect William Monaghan’s provenance has given what is a rather puerile picture ideas, and pull, above its station – were Danny Dyer and his ilk to be found leering from the poster one would at least know what to expect. Lacking originality and heart, this nasty little number is a step back in time and talent for the principle players and a waste of time for anyone with the misfortune to shell out their hard-earned. Avoid.
London Boulevard opens across the UK on November 26th