Saturday, 7 March 2009

Eva Green is people!

Finally found time to see Franklyn: really glad I did. This is an unusual and well-made fantasy set in both the real London and the parallel Meanwhile City. This setting is a brilliantly realised, eccentric and gothic labyrinth of towering buildings and narrow streets lined with votive candles and cult preachers, and patrolled by religious policemen in stovepipe hats (what do you mean, there's no Oscar for best sci-fi hat?) The film tells several stories that are joined by themes of intense loss and the power of imagination to change lives.

Franklyn is intelligently written. This is no dial-a-dystopia - everything about the film is meaningful and deliberate. From the real-life religious architectural elements that are mixed up and distorted to make up the buildings of Meanwhile City, to the story of the City's only non-believer, a masked Ryan Philippe, and his struggle with the authorities, everything has a meaning in the real world plot, and there are several aspects of characters, dialogues and events that seem slightly odd or surreal at the time, but make sense later.

The script develops several tangential plots and gradually draws the characters and events together - by the unintended consequences of each person's actions rather than by pure coincidence. As Eva Green's character is told by a mysterious hospital chaplain, the real tragedy of suicide is to do with the people one hasn't met yet. The intense emotional drama sometimes feels more like a play than a film, although the visuals are definitely cinematic - also, most of the actors play two parts which is a device more commonly seen on the stage. Once again there is a sound reason for this artistic decision. Eva Green carries this film with a challenging and believable portrayal of an arts student locked into a bitter conflict with her mother and repeatedly recording her own suicide attempts. She also finds the time to dye her hair red and play a primary school teacher who appears in another subplot.

I left feeling that I had seen something different, and for all the loss and tragedy this film still leaves you with a sense of wonder. Highly recommended.

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