Refreshingly, the high concept ‘Franklyn’ is not an easy film to categorise but can be described, and has been by the director, as Retro Noir. An urban fairytale set in two worlds, modern day London and the fantastical, baroque Meanwhile City; it’s a tag the film wears well. The feature directorial debut from writer-director Gerald McMorrow, ‘Franklyn’ premiered as part of this year’s Jameson Dublin International Film Festival.
Four central characters unweave a complicated web of religion, love and fate created by McMorrow. Superbly cast, ‘Casino Royale’s Eva Green shakes off Bond-babe typecasting as Emilia, a wealthy but disturbed art student, crying out for the attention deprived her, by her mother and her past. Riley takes on the desolate persona of Miles, whose fiancé has walked out on him - a more sensitive, but similar take on his outstanding 'Control' performance.
Surprisingly, the most unusual name in the pot is Philippe and not because of his Hollywood status but this role as shady, vigilante anti-hero Preest. Finally, there’s Peter (Hill) a troubled father, desperate to find his depressed son, a Gulf war veteran, before he does further harm to himself, or someone else.
The film falters during the second act. What began as an ambitious project, both visually and conceptually, becomes a weaker ‘V for Vendetta’. The fight scenes are a little awkward and the two worlds grow worryingly further apart, with the plot in tow. However, like all fairytales, it comes together beautifully at the end, offering a hand of hope for struggling modern society and more importantly for those struggling to exist within it.
A far cry from the humdrum predictable multiplex film, ‘Franklyn’ is brave and unrelenting, demanding perseverance. For a first feature, following McMorrow’s award winning short ‘Thespian X’, this is an exciting debut and bodes well for his future films.