3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
The cover art of this DVD would suggest an action-adventure movie starring a curiously depressed, masked detective/superhero and his two friends, but it is quite a misleading illustration.
"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.