Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

How does one exactly go about describing Gerald McMorrow’s directorial debut ‘Franklyn’. I still haven’t quite figured that out as yet, but I’m sick of staring at a blank page so I will give it a go.

Emilia (Eva Green) is crazy. She’s constantly at odds with her mother Margaret (Susannah York) who from what I can tell dotes on her, and she is a film student, I think, which largely involves the woman creating works which center around her attempting suicide weekly only to be rescued by EMS, or whatever they might call EMS techs in Great Britain. Emilia is clearly crazy.

Milo (Sam Riley) seems normal but as it turns out he’s a little crazy too. Milo’s sweetie pie has basically left him at the altar which has the poor boy in a bit of a state. But sometimes a closed window opens a door as Milo sees a girl he used to be sweet on way back when he was just a child in the auburn haired Sally. How he knew that was Sally walking down the street as a grown woman simply by the color of her hair is curious, but maybe love’s fleeting ways will shine on poor Milo just yet. Milo’s relationship with this Sally is crazy, no matter what his mom says. He’s might not be as crazy as Emilia but he’s still not playing with a full deck.

I believe Peter (Bernard Hill) is probably insane as well though his insanity is slightly more esoteric than the rest of the characters in this movie. Peter is excited because his son David, damaged by the Iraq war, will soon be getting out of the loony bin. Problem is David has somehow engineered his escape and now Peter is scouring the city trying to find his son. Obviously David is nuts as well but he’s certifiably nuts where as everybody else has textures and layers to their insanity.

Now here’s where things get a little squapity. Interspersed between the lives of these three fractured individuals is the self-narrated fantasy world of masked vigilante Jonathan Preest (Ryan Phillippe). Preest is angry with himself because he failed in his mission to protect a little girl, allowing her to die at the hands of an evil man known only as The Individual and he has sworn to see this evil man in the dirt and will end anyone who makes the mistake of getting in his way.

So as one watches ‘Franklyn’ you will probably be wondering… hoping actually… that somehow, someway these four separate stories will connect and bring us some form of clarity, understanding and enlightenment. The good news is that it will do just that. The bad news is that it will be a struggle to make it to this point.

A viewing of Gerald McMorrow’s ‘Franklyn’ can at times be a test of one’s patience and I must be honest in letting you know that on more than one occasion I let out a couple of healthy yawns. But ultimately I do believe that if you stay with this movie, and you continue to pay attention to what is going on, your patience will be rewarded.

This isn’t to say that the narrative in ‘Franklyn’ is overly complicated or too terribly difficult to comprehend. True enough the three present day stories between three people who have no connection to each other, as far as we can tell, and the complete fantasy world of Jonathan Preest starts out as confusing, but it becomes fairly clear pretty early, at least as far as the fantasy world is concerned, what we are experiencing. The thing that makes it a struggle to make it through the first couple of acts in this movie is that we are following around these miserable characters without any basis in knowing why these three people are such sad sacks, which made watching them be miserable a little dull. Of course every once in a while Jonathan Preest will show up doing his gadgetless Batman thing and while that wasn’t dull, there was no basis for why we were watching this.

But you know eventually there will be clarity to it all and this is what makes you stay with the movie. Eventually we will learn about these miserable characters, some of this is explicitly stated, some of it implied and a few elements have to be observed or interpreted, but it all goes a long way in getting us involved into the well-being of these characters. Additionally the characters are supported by this seemingly disjointed narrative which cleverly, but not obtrusively comes together to form what I personally thought was a very unique and borderline ingenious storytelling device.

But if you were to tell me that halfway through ‘Franklyn’ you couldn’t take any more and decided to watch ‘Dancing with the Stars’, I couldn’t fault you for that. I mean I could fault you watching ‘Dancing with the Stars’ but I couldn’t fault you for giving up the ghost on ‘Franklyn’. Plus, even after you make it through, you may be underwhelmed by what you have seen and I would understand that as well, but this is a movie that demands more from its audience than the average film and also one that gets better days after its been viewed. Some folks don’t have time for that, but if you stick with it I’m of the opinion that you will have a very unique and rewarding movie experience.

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