Film review: Franklyn (2008), directed by Gerald McMorrow
Franklyn was billed as a sci-fi film, where four individuals’ paths meet, and two parallel worlds collide. Sounded fascinating, but was … not exactly like that.
We meet Milo (Sam Riley) who was about to get married, but his bride dumped him, and his would-be Best Man (Richard Coyle) can’t really cheer him up. Milo re-discovers an old childhood friend, Sally (Eva Green), who looks like a red-haired version of Emilia (also Eva Green), an emo art student who attempts suicide a number of times for an art project. She doesn’t get along with her mother Margaret (Susannah York) very well and keeps making video recordings.
Peter Esser (Bernard Hill) is, while all this is happening, a religious man looking for his missing son David (Ryan Phillippe) amongst the homeless in London, but it seems as if ex-soldier David has in fact escaped from a mental institution when he got to come home over the weekend.
And, in a dystopian metropolis known as Meanwhile City, a man called Preest (also Ryan Phillippe) walks around in a mask narrating, Rorschach style, his search for “The Individual”, the man he holds responsible for the death of a young girl four years previously. In Meanwhile, faith is everything, except Preest doesn’t have any – he’s the only one of “no religion”, and the police look like someone’s taken Noel Fielding and pressed “copy”.
I expected something that was more along the lines of the events of Meanwhile City, which is an interesting setting. Instead, it’s an arty film less of parallel worlds and more about delusions. Which then means that instead of a film where three real-life characters end up in a fantastical world and have to help the vigilante Preest catch a bad guy, you get a rather depressing film about a troubled girl who wants to kill herself, a boy who turns to imaginary friends as a coping mechanism and a desperate father who doesn’t realise his son is actually armed and dangerous and wants to avenge his sister’s fatal accident a couple of weeks before he was due to come home from the Middle East.
Phew, that was a long sentence!
You know the phrase “it’s all in your head”? Well, guess what? That’s Franklyn in a nutshell.
So yeah, instead of interesting, it’s depressing. Instead of entertaining, it’s weird. I don’t mind weird, if it’s packaged in an agreeable way – Ryan Phillippe and Eva Green are indeed very agreeable – but then you can get too weird, and if you then mix it with the toxic substance of depression, then even having fascinating psychology stuff won’t help.
Not that it ends on a particularly depressing note, it’s actually a little bit hopeful, but it’s still dark and I don’t do that kind of dark. I don’t like to watch it. I watch films because they’re entertaining in one way or another, and that in itself is a form of escapism, which means if I use films as an antidepressant, I don’t want the antidepressant to be a depressant, so to speak.
So I’m afraid this has to be classed as “too arty for my taste”, even if I really liked the breathtaking architecture of Meanwhile City.
3 out of 5 rosary beads.