Buried Credits, a column that deep dives into the IMDB pages of favorite actors, directors, and writers to find their lost, forgotten, or unknown film and TV credits, continues this week with works featuring Eva Green.
Directed and Written by Gerald McMorrow
Franklyn is a puzzle film that takes four, distinct, unconnected characters and slowly reveals how their lives overlap. Emphasizing seemingly irreconcilable differences in visual style and location (three are set in real world London but the fourth takes place in a fantastic Meanwhile City), the slant comes from realizing Jonathon, Emilia, Milo, and Peter have a lot in common. It’s a “you are not alone,” sentiment, masked as cynicism to go down sweeter and, as their stories grow more intertwined, actors play multiple characters, and connecting the dots before they culminate in the finale is a startling, unpredictable adventure.
Meanwhile City’s steampunk design looks straight out of a graphic novel but more’s the pity that it’s not, as the inspired result is a richly rendered urban landscape of grungy browns and metal. In order to comply with the rules of the city’s Ministry, every citizen must believe in a religion. This sets the stage for Jonathon Preest (Ryan Phillippe), a non-believer dedicated to destroying The Individual, who he holds responsible for killing one of his clients. Yes, it’s another masked vigilante and yes, with his elevated speech he can look and sound like Watchman‘s Rorschach, but he doesn’t register as imitation, and the specificity of his mission (kill one man to get revenge for one girl) means no convoluted higher goals but clearly defined intention.
The costume and make-up team have worked overtime, in designing a medley of looks for extras that unfortunately get pushed to the background. Their unsung dedication is essential to the crowded atmosphere and gives credence to the explosion of religious sects that populate this city, where whole faiths can be based around manicures and washing machines. A second viewing to pause and decode what different uniforms might stand for would be immensely worthwhile.
Action sequences are brief and compact but smoothly choreographed. An exciting lack of blood and guns requires more inventive thinking with objects on hand (a table for starters) and it was a good kind of strange to see someone get punched without the exaggerated splashes of red afterwards.
Back in London, Emilia (Green) is a talented artist currently using her skills for a project where she repeatedly stages her suicide on camera. Death isn’t the goal—breaking through to the oblivious people in her life is—but death very well could be the result. Her mom dodges blame by calling her daughter unwilling to communicate, when her regular attendance at a joint therapy session each week says otherwise. Her teacher is determined to express how disturbing he finds her project but less so that he feels concerned about her well-being (he even tells Emilia not to come back if she doesn’t change subjects, which is about the most horrible phrasing you can use towards a person with a history of trying to kill herself). It’s a destructive environment and Green does a fantastic time playing Emilia’s ferocity against being broken by it.
If any of the stories feels a little more detached than the others (and lack of apparent relation is part of the point), it would probably be the jilted fiancé, Milo (Sam Riley). In truth, though, he’s only paying the price for daring to be the most optimistic and romantic of the leads. No one in Franklyn is unimportant.
Verdict: Buried Treasure
A movie that knows how to revel in a little early confusion, before pulling all the plot lines together, Franklyn‘s outsiders could carry their own movies but merge together in ways that matter, while the recycling of familiar faces across stories adds to the completeness and continuity of the whole.
Check back tomorrow for an Eva Green performance set in the medieval era (emphasis on the “evil”).