London Boulevard DVD review
London Boulevard arrives on DVD, and Dave enjoys a flawed yet well-acted British gangster movie...
Freshly released from prison, Mitchell (Colin Farrell) is picked up by his friend and gangster loser, Billy (Ben Chaplin), who tries to draw him off the straight-and-narrow and back into a world of violence and dodgy dealings. Intent on not following this path, Mitchell sets out to do the right thing, despite his old world conspiring against him. Saving a girl from a street theft he is, rather implausibly, offered a job opportunity.
Thankfully, having found gainful employment as bodyguard and handyman to the reclusive Charlotte (Keira Knightley), it does look like he has turned over a new leaf. However, he can’t escape his past, no matter how much he would want to, and shortly becomes the target of local gangster, Gant (Ray Winstone), who wishes to recruit him to expand the gangster’s grip on London.
Ignoring the tempting offers, Mitchell finds himself drawn into Charlotte’s odd world. She’s a young actress who has withdrawn herself from the world and wants to hide from the seemingly pervasive attention of the gutter press. She is a messed up woman dealing with a messy divorce, unable to deal with fame and notoriety.
It isn’t long, of course, before Charlotte falls for Mitchell, drawn to his confidence and his honesty. As Charlotte, used to a world where she doesn’t share yet people know everything, grows to trust Mitchell, she opens up more, revealing the fragile creature within.
Finding a kindred spirit in Jordan (David Thewlis), Charlotte’s assistant, Mitchell learns more about her and the world that she lives in whilst allowing them both to tackle the problems that Mitchell is having as he attempts to escape the dangerously violent world of Gant and embrace the opportunities that life with Charlotte could offer.
Gant isn’t willing to let Mitchell go, and seeks to destroy everything that he holds dear, whilst Mitchell attempts to put a stop to Gant and his cronies. His attempt at a new life really comes into sharp focus when he gets the opportunity to confront the young thug who killed a friend. Unable to go through with this execution, he races back to Charlotte and they seal their love. This isn’t to say he’s against using violence to get his point across and to get answers, though.
As they say, violence begets violence, and whilst Charlotte may experience some degree of newly found freedom, the others drawn into Mitchell’s decaying orbit find they are just as much victims as he turns out to be.
Farrell is always good to watch, and delivers the limited dialogue that his character has with a rather convincing, though occasionally wobbly, East End accent. He moves from scene to scene, going from threatening to caring with ease.
Ray Winstone owns the screen in his scenes as Gant, delivering foul-mouthed, thinly veiled threats and aggressive demands of Mitchell and everyone else. He’s charmingly threatening, cruelly calculating and intent on ensuring that Mitchell understands his place in the grand scheme of things. It’s a real thing to see him deliver lines with a really laid back tone, yet still carry gravitas in every line of dialogue.
This is Knightley’s best performance since Atonement, and miles away from the sickly sweetness of Pirates Of The Caribbean or the loveliness of Love Actually.
With strong performances from Stephen Graham, Eddie Marsan, Sanjeev Bhaskar and Anna Friel, the cast outshines the rather messy script. It isn’t a case of poor dialogue or a terrible story, it’s just that the story is muddled and seems to want to cover too many ideas.
Having won an Academy Award for The Departed, William Monahan’s directorial debut features a script that he has also crafted, based on the novel by Ken Bruen. He may have delivered a flawed British gangster film, but his direction is robust and masculine, showing off a colourful London and drawing strong performances from the whole cast.
This is a DVD that is disappointingly lacking in special features.
Cast and crew interviews appear to have been part of an electronic press kit, and feature the principle cast and director talking about various aspects of their characters and filming.
It’s a nice collection of ‘interviews’ that allow the cast to talk about how wonderful everything was (in the case of Farrell, with some bad language). Completing the sparse special features is the trailer.
London Boulevard is out now and available from the Den Of Geek Store.
Follow Den Of Geek on Twitter right here.