VOD film review: Lost in London
Ivan Radford | On 28, Jul 2019
Director: Woody Harrelson
Cast: Woody Harrelson, Owen Wilson
Watch Lost in London online in the UK: Sky Cinema / NOW / Apple TV (iTunes) / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / TalkTalk TV Store / Rakuten TV / Google Play / Sky Store
Actors stepping behind the camera to direct are a far from rare breed. Actors directing self-aware satires of Hollywood are also not uncommon. Even directors making films all in one take aren’t exactly unheard of. But to do all those three in the same movie? And broadcast it live to cinemas? That’s something unique – an act of bravura ambition that’s brave, foolish or probably both.
Lost in London follows Woody Harrelson around the UK capital for one night, after things keep going wrong for the actor. We join him as he tries – and fails – to keep a newspaper story about him and another woman from his wife (a brilliant Eleanor Matsuura). And so she jettisons him for the evening, forbidding him to go home with her and the kids – and he finds himself whisked away by a sheikh for a night of drunken recklessness.
It’s a journey that takes him from a posh restaurant to a night club and ultimately Westminster Bridge via a police cell – and that array of locations gives you a sense of just how high Lost in London sets the bar for itself. The film isn’t just a live-stunt from an A-lister: it’s a companion piece to Sebastian Schipper’s Victoria, and aims to be taken just as seriously.
Harrelson jumps into the part of himself with a game abandon, able to laugh at himself as much as he’s able to show himself in the worst possible light. “Too much of this is true,” the film’s pre-credits title wryly admits. Indeed, the whole thing is rooted in a 2002 episode that actually happened to Harrelson, when he was in a West End play (with some added embellishments and tweaks for dramatic purposes). The argument between Harrelson and Matsuura is excellently convincing, and grounds the whole escapade in something concrete, and the antics of their on-screen kids – oblivious to the adult tensions in the air – are equally engaging.
The best moment, though, belongs to Owen Wilson who appears as (you guessed it) Owen Wilson. Trying to console his fellow star in a late night bar, he’s hilariously self-centred and wonderfully unlikeable; by the time they’ve started trading insults because Wilson says his best friend isn’t Woody but Wes Anderson, Lost in London has found its groove. It’s a ride with a relentless pace, a host of knowing cameos (watch out for Willie Nelson, aka. “the Texan Dalai Lama”) and a deft line in self-aware humour. For anyone’s feature film, it’s a fun time. For a feature-length debut broadcast live into cinemas? It’s a foolish, brave, fantastic achievement. Watch it, enjoy it, then spend hours trying to work out how it all came together.
Lost in London is available on Sky Cinema. Don’t have Sky? You can also stream it on NOW, as part of a £11.99 NOW Cinema Membership subscription.