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LONDON ROAD (#TIFF15 Review)

London Road AUS PosterLONDON ROAD
Written by Alecky Blythe / Directed by Rufus Norris / Starring Tom Hardy, Olivia Colman & Kate Fleetwood

Community: It could be anyone.

Well, the concept of LONDON ROAD is certainly interesting.

In 2006, the real life residents of a community called Ipswich were understandably shaken when the murdered bodies of five women were discovered. The victims, all prostitutes, it seemed a modern-day repeat of one of the most famous serial killers in history. And when one of their own neighbours was arrested and charged with the crimes, the members of this normally quiet town tried to come to terms with what had happened in their backyard.

Audio recordings obtained from interviews with these residents over the course of three years following the events provide the lyrics to the story now set to music via LONDON ROAD. Starting from the discovery of the last bodies until the town’s recovery and attempts to move past the tragedy, the movie is a film version of a stage production of the same name. Starring Tom Hardy (and in this case, I use the term “starring” in the loosest sense of the word; ”featuring in a cameo role” would be more like it), Olivia Colman (Broadchurch) and Kate Fleetwood (PHILOMENA), it comes courtesy of theatre director Rufus Norris (BROKEN) and writer Alecky Blythe (The Riots: In Their Own Words – The Rioters).

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While the subject matter is quite fascinating, as was the decision to set the residents’ interviews to music, the end product is anything but. And no, it’s not because Tom Hardy is barely in it. It’s because it’s dull and comes off as mainly a non-story with a mostly forgettable soundtrack. Not quite what people look for in a musical. Granted, I have never seen a stage production of LONDON ROAD, so cannot compare it to the theatrical version. But unfortunately, after the film version, I’m certainly not likely to.

2 sheep

LONDON ROAD screens at TIFF15 as part of the City to City London program. This is the screening information:

Thursday, September 10, 9:30 PM, Visa Screening Room (Elgin)

Friday, September 11, 12:30 PM, Bloor Hot Docs Cinema

Sunday, September 20, 6:00 PM, Bloor Hot Docs Cinema

For more information and for tickets, please visit tiff.net.

Your turn!

How many sheep would you give London Road?

2 Comments

  1. I agree with what you say – fascinating premise but dull result, and not just the lack of melody. OK, the murders brought the residents of the street together, the culmination of which was a street party. What was unsatisfactory was the almost total absence of compassion for the victims of the crimes. I was not expecting a Hollywood-style ending where residents and prostitutes joined hands for a passionate chorus but the final scene was simply an empty experience for me, leaving me neither upbeat nor sad.

    • Hi Tony, thanks for the comment. I agree, it was not what I was expecting either, and that may have also contributed to my disappointment. I know that many people enjoyed this film, but I personally walked away as you did – unmoved and rather indifferent. Hope you enjoyed the festival!

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