London Boulevard (US-UK, 2010)

Starry London thriller

I don’t know why this thriller bombed at the box office as I found it mostly gripping and well acted: Keira Knightley in particular as the vulnerable actor hounded by paparazzi. Even Ray Winstone, reprising his gangster role, manages to squeeze even more menace than usual from the scumbag he plays. Colin Farrell is an engaging lead and add David Thewlis, Anna Friel, Eddie Marsan and Stephen Graham, you can see we have some of the best actors in the British business. And I haven’t mentioned Ben Chaplin, who seemed to have disappeared for a while, as an absolutely terrific sleazeball.

This was William Monahan’s debut as a director, having scripted The Departed (2006) amongst others; he also wrote and produced. It’s well shot and the only miscalculation, apart from a rather unraveling ending, is Sanjeev Bhaskar’s doctor who’s meant to be comic relief. The British gangster film has a terrible reputation; with the honourable exceptions of Sexy Beast (2000), with Winstone, and Gangster No.1 (2001), with Thewlis. This uses London locations well, eschewing the tourist spots apart from some eloquently composed skyline shots, conveying the sense of menace of estates and the gentility of the posh areas; gangster Winstone is comfortable in both locations.

Maybe the romance between the principals, Farrell is meant to be protecting Knightley, is too reminiscent of The Bodyguard (1992) or it was because Thewlis’ washed-up druggie actor is entirely unconvincing (as a character not as a performance). Well worth catching up with on DVD I suggest.

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