Franklyn (2008)
By: James Gillett on October 10, 2010  | 
Icon | Region B | 2.35:1, 1080p | English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 | 98 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
Cover Art
Director: Gerald McMorrow
Starring: Ryan Phillippe, Eva Green, Sam Riley, Bernard Hill
Screenplay: Gerald McMorrow
Country: UK
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Split narrative style, Franklyn tells a tale set simultaneously in present day London and a dark fantasy, almost steam-punkish, Victorian inspired metropolis. If you're wondering what the hell, the latter appears to be a cramped, over built-up Victorian city, full of dark spires wrapped in a seemingly endless night, with some modern technology (like TV's for instance) and filled with a populous of weirdo's with a particularly odd and fevered attitude to religion (It's a place where anything from a washing machine manual to nail polish can form a basis, but you can't be an atheist!), not to mention an odd manner of police force, or more accurately 'clerics', who run around in almost comically large Top Hats.

Yes, it's a little out there in a bit of a Gilliam kind of way, which sure isn't a bad thing. In fact, it lends to some pretty interesting production design, like the rather striking mask of this bizarre-o worlds hero Jonathan Preest (Ryan Phillippe) which see's him essentially faceless, in a physics defying kind of way, by covering his head in white cloth and creating two large empty black pits in the place of eyes. It's bizarrely memorable stuff.

But enough of that, the story's what matters here, and in bizarre-o world Jonathan Preest is out for revenge. As something of a vigilante and menace to the city's power structure, The Ministry, to whom he holds responsible the death of a little girl, he's doing the kicking ass and taking names thing, and generally trying to avoid those Top Hat waring gentlemen in his quest for the one he calls 'The Individual'. Back in everyday modern London, we follow Emilia Bryant (Eva Green), a student working on an art project which see's her film her own suicide attempts. Then there's Milo (Sam Riley), a guy who's trying to find his way having just being jilted at the altar. And lastly we have a father (Bernard Hill) who searches persistently for his missing son. It goes without saying these four characters lives are sure to intersect come climax.

As gloomy as that may sound, it's not quite the depression fest it seems. Lightening the mood is the overtly stylistic comic book esc bizarre-o world where Preest is out in force, offering a break from the attempts at the more emotionally driven drama otherwise taking place. Here, Ryan Phillippe is in full noir mode (broody narration and all) in sequences that seem quite intentionally over the top, and are reasonably enjoyable in a trashy kind of way.

The the other three characters stories are more serious attempts at straight-up drama, with varying degrees of success. While Eva Green's emotionally damaged art student is perhaps a little much, and Bernard Hill's searching father tale seems a little periphery, Sam Riley's jilted Milo appears as a fairly genuine character; given the small amount of time we spend with him. The problem is, while Milo's segments are reasonably convincing, none of the plot strands are particularly involving as individual experiences (Preest's included, admittedly), and their relevance beyond their 'lost souls' status doesn't really become apparent until the conclusion rolls along.

What we end up with is a film that isn't quite as enjoyable or enriching as it should be. There's a reasonably good payoff, which interestingly raises further questions along with its revelations, but the trip there isn't always particularly engrossing, making the whole thing feel more like one big clever punch line than an engaging time at the movies.
Presented in 2:35:1, this 1080p 24p transfer is a good looker. True to the films generally dark, rather toned down colour scheme, the BD gives a pleasingly crisp, clear and well contrasted image.
A choice of either a Dolby True-HD track or a English LPCM Stereo mix. The HD track is solid, with pleasingly strong range and base.
Extra Features
We get a making of: A Moment in Meanwhile (29:42) which consists mostly of various cast and crew talking heads along with some Deleted Scenes (4:12) and the films trailer (1:40). Also on disc's start-up we get trailers for The Road, Go Fast, Open Graves and PS3 game Heavy Rain.
The Verdict
Interesting themes, strong production design and a decent payoff make this worth a look, but there's something a little distancing about the whole experience that makes it feel like the film's stronger in concept than plain old entertainment value.
Movie Score
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Overall Score

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