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FRANKLYN - Blu-Ray Movie
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Visually appealing on almost every level, Franklyn has two divergent stories that seem to have nothing to do with each other. In one we're privy to a kind of superhero trying to avenge the death of a young girl whom we know nothing about. He chases after "The Individual" in a city known as Meanwhile. Looking, as stated earlier, somewhere along the lines of a Frank Miller graphic mixed with a kind of Dark Knight quality, the story intrigues and makes us cheer on the main character, Jonathan Preest (Ryan Philleppe, Flags of Our Fathers). I mean, trying to avenge the death of an innocent girl is noble, right? Equally intriguing within the city of Meanwhile are the many religions that flourish, including the Seventh Day Manicurists. Everyone is required to have a religious affiliation ...except our "hero" who is subsequently tracked by highly skilled fighting monks.
In the second story, a woman named Emilia (Eva Green, The Golden Compass) tries to come to terms with her life and her art. She consistently tries to kill herself for the sake of it only to learn that her art just isn't inspiring enough. Also, a man in search of his missing son comes to the psychiatrist who'd been treating him only to learn that his son escaped and is out in the world with a rifle slung over his shoulder.
As the two storylines begin to mesh, reality skews, men and women we thought we knew either don't exist, exist as something else, or are strictly symbols (including a janitor who plays a vital role). The fascination the viewer will feel at the realizations of what is coming will shock, delight and sink their heart. Yes, it's THAT good.
The visuals are what will initially draw you in. You'll be asking yourself "Why?" many times: Why is the city so muted? Why is he wearing a mask? Why are these religious fanatics chasing him? If you pay close attention, everything is answered in one final scene which, in itself, reveals amazing storytelling.
I can't stress enough how closely everything is linked in the film and how paying attention reaps great benefits in the end. Even the names of the characters (Preest, The Individual, Wormsnakes, Pastor Bone) all have relevance.
Made on a paltry $12 million budget, the movie feels much more expensive and expansive. Sadly, it did not get a wide release and suffered because of it. Not many people have ever heard of it. I know I never had until a friend I work with mentioned it. But I'm glad he pointed me in the right direction. This one's a hidden gem. And it's so original that you'll wonder which genre you're watching. I'm still wondering!
Story descriptions that I have read here and elsewhere can confuse more often than help, but a quick summary could include two "parallel" worlds in London converging over the course of the story, culminating in a final climactic event that ties all of the stories (real and imagined) together. Meanwhile, the visuals and sounds are conveyed eloquently and with outstanding Blu clarity. The picture is tested in every single Meanwhile City panoramic, and each time I would pause it to look for flaws and holes - but couldn't really find any. There are very few scenes with bright colors, but when they show up the saturation/contrast is just right. The DTS was ideal. Reference the scene with Ryan's character surrounding the snake guy, or any of the off-camera sounds being moved around the channels perfectly (answering machine shots, hospital sounds, etc.) Phillippe's voice does not the have the ideal inflections for a film-length narration, but you get through it because it is usually over the fantasy world sequences where you might spend more time looking at all they are putting before you.
The supplements include:
* A brief ad-plug style making of that should definitely be watched after the movie (gives away all of the twists).
* Interviews. They all last 32 minutes total, and can be watched individually or as a play all. Main cast and crew are dryly interviewed on set, but they give some vital info on the inspiration, logistics and (appropriately) some of the confusion people have in trying to describe everything that is Franklyn.
* Deleted scenes. Less than 10 minutes but I enjoyed seeing more of the red haired lady and her wonderful role.
A very obscure and darkly anti-religious/faith film, but worth the watch if you would like a mix of Dark City (Director's Cut) [Blu-ray] meets a masked man noir narrative. Blu quality is superb - not the best I have seen but great overall for what this was.
The viewer is tossed right in the middle of four unrelated characters's lives each on the crest of life changing personal turmoil. Paced episodically, we have no history as to how the character reached that particular state in their life, but as the movie unfolds a workable sketch emerges just enough to satisfy our curiosity about that person's circumstance.
The fun in watching this movie- and the principal motivating factor to continue viewing- lies in figuring out how will all these unrelated plot lines ultimately be tied in and reconciled. In this regard Franklyn succeeds in delivering an unexpected twist, but does so awkwardly.
The main problem with this movie is that most of the characters are rather unsympathetic, superficial and self indulgent. It is difficult to form a bond with them or care much about their problems. The "fantasy future world" of religious dystopia offers the most satisfying experience, rich with atmosphere and some biting sarcasm. However, this "world" remains marginal to the overall theme.
Because of this tepid interest in the characters, even as the build up to some inevitable conclusion, it's more about detached curiosity of how the writers will reconcile the plot rather than sincere involvement with the movie itself. Some will call the inclusion of Meanwhile City a tease, but what it represents is really a pun. Pity the whole of the movie didn't take place there.
"Franklyn" is an ambitious, intelligent parable about alienation in the modern world involving three disparate characters living in contemporary London:
Emilia (Eva Green) a suicidal artist,
Milo (Sam Riley) a melancholy young man who has apparently been recently jilted and who would like to reunite with his childhood sweetheart, and
Esser (Bernard hill) a father searching for his lost son
The figure on is cover is named Jonathan Preest (not Franklyn), and yes, he is a masked detective, of sorts, but he is out for vengeance, not justice. He seeks to kill the man responsible for the death of his young client, apparently many years ago. He wanders through a fantastic place known as Meanwhile City, where all of the inhabitants are religious; in fact, they must, by law, have a religion. Jonathan Preest is, of course, an atheist and therefore, alienated.
Meanwhile City, like the universes of "Blade Runner" and "Dark City" is a beautiful, fascinating place in its own right, and Preest (as portrayed by Ryan Phillippe) is a compelling protagonist. He reminds me of Rorschach set loose in a landscape created by Neil Gaiman ("Neverland"). So if you didn't get enough of Jackie Earl Haley's Rorschach in "Watchmen," then this movie is for you, and you need not read any further. Otherwise read on.
So what does Preest have to do with the other three? Well, they are all alienated, too!
By the end of this movie, all of the threads of the story line will become entwined in a serendipitous manner which will hopefully provoke in the viewer questions like: What is reality? What is fantasy? and What makes life worth living?
This is not a fist-in-the-air feel-good summer blockbuster. It is the kind of movie perfect for a drizzly autumnal afternoon or a cozy winter night. It is best viewed alone, with a loved one, or at most, a very small group of intimate friends, preferably ones who don't take religion too seriously. A glass of wine or sherry before viewing helps a lot to set the proper reflective mood.
But beware! This movie is confusing at first, as the director has decided to withhold huge amounts of information so that there can be a big "reveal" at the end which makes it seem more profound than it really is. Repeated viewings are advised so that you can backtrack and ask yourself: Gee, how did I miss that?
At first, the theme which is not immediately evident, is that the universe is not random. God does NOT play dice with the universe, but it is not ruled by a caring god capable of intervening in our lives, but by an exquisite clockwork which determines our individual fates. If an event as insignificant as a single drop of rain leaking into a doorbell, producing a short, can have profound implications, then what effect must a suicide or the death of a child, have on the future, not only on the people that person knew, but also those persons the departed have yet to meet.
(I'm really dancing around any specifics of the plot because I don't want to spoil it for you.)
So why didn't I give this movie more stars? Because Franklyn is relatively devoid of any feeling. It is manipulative, where it should be moving, and the characters are essentially hollow. We plop down into their (somewhat weird) lives with no notion of who they are or how to identify with them, and therefore feel nothing for any of them, even at the movie's dramatic conclusion.
In order to either love or hate a character, you must first identify with that character, and filmmakers today don't seem to know how to make an audience do that. Even the most cheesy Joan Crawford movie of the 30's had no problems in this area, but today we must settle for clever scripts, nice costumes, and fantastic art direction in place of pathos.
Nevertheless, it is nice to slip off into a pretty, kinky, violent fantasy once in a while, especially if it involves London, and this movie offers all that and more. Purchase it, rent it, or borrow it, and be enlightened.