VOD film review: Franklyn
James R | On 10, Apr 2013
Director: Gerald McMorrow
Cast: Ryan Philippe, Eva Green, Sam Riley, Bernard Hill
Where to watch Franklyn online in the UK: All 4 / Amazon Prime / Apple TV (iTunes) / Prime Video (Buy/Rent)
“If you believe in something strong enough, who’s to say if it’s real or not?” That’s Preest (Philippe) on religion, life and the very world of Meanwhile City, a dystopian metropolis where there is no divide between the state and the church. In a society of believers, Preest is the only atheist, a vigilante hell-bent on hunting down his nemesis, The Individual.
Meanwhile, in grey, overcast London, Milo (Riley) has just been jilted. He struggles to continue with his life, turning in desperation to his childhood sweetheart, Sally (Green). Across town, Emilia (Green), an art student alienated from her mother, repeatedly attempts suicide. In between these entwined tales, Peter (Hill) looks for his lost son.
An intriguing tapestry of gothic fantasy and gloomy tragedy, Franklyn sees all of these tales collide, shattering each world with another. But the path dictated by destiny doesn’t always run smooth; while both landscapes are convincing, from Meanwhile’s glorious architecture to London’s dusty streets, the back-stories are less so. Each character is engaging (Riley’s earnestness and Hill’s faith are particularly affecting) but their motives almost seem tired. It’s a shame, given the talent on display.
McMorrow weaves his flawed web well, contrasting flair and routine: rooftop battles and eerie echoes of London brings his alternate reality vividly to life. It’s like Terry Gilliam and Mike Leigh sat down together and got to work. It would be nothing, though, without Ryan Philippe, whose growling, broody killer carries the weight of his world with ease. Walking around with a mask for a face, he’s not quite the complex figure of Rorschach, but like McMorrow’s first feature, he’s certainly most of the way there. The result is an arresting debut from a director with a distinctive eye; what this bold urban fairy tale lacks in structure it makes up for with visual panache.
Franklyn is available on All 4 until 10th May 2021. It is also available to watch online on Amazon Prime Video as part of a Prime membership or a £5.99 monthly subscription.