London Boulevard - Blu-ray Review

'Colin Farrell might not master the cockney accent completely but he does whisper 'fuck off' very effectively'

London Boulevard joins that great and respectable pantheon of films which have a rollickingly brilliant trailer but end up being rather hopeless. William Monahan's debut as writer/director, having solidified his credentials with the script for The Departed, is a London-set gangster film with too much going on, in too many locations with too many plots and sub-plots to keep up with. It's also messily shot and edited and features a script which burbles around all over the place like a drunk actor looking for the next bar.

Unusually for such a film the performances are, nearly without exception, remarkable. Colin Farrell might not master the cockney accent completely but he does whisper 'fuck off' very effectively and his noble penchant for protecting women (a recurring theme throughout) fits the sharply tailored suits and simmering machismo of his gangster anti-hero. Keira Knightley is effective as the neurotic superstar he inevitably falls for whilst David Thelewis, as her drug addled assistant, steals every scene he appears in, ditto Anna Friel as Knightley's spiritual, less-restrained, mirror. Eddie Marsan and Ray Winstone provide typically meaty support as one-dimensional characters whilst Ben Chaplin's thankless task, as the snivelling weasel of the piece, doesn't get any less thankless the more the film progresses.

Monahan might have shown his scripting skills with The Departed and Body Of Lies but here his stock-in-trade seems to completely fail him. The script, adapted from Ken Bruen's novel, is all over the place, veering from cliché, to gangster speak, to underwritten love mumblings. It doesn't help matters that the place it is all over is a near-unrecognisable London where shady deals are made in full view of neon-lit glamour and where police officers appear completely absent in any way that might foil the 'fun' Monahan wants to ensure unfolds. His directing doesn't help matters either. There's something going on with a shady photographer outside Knightley's house but if you can discern what exactly 'it' is from the muddled final shots then you saw much more than I did.

London Boulevard could have been a great gangster opus (an epic, even) but as it is the film ends up as a collection of really great performances, inhabiting a narrative which only makes complete sense and provides complete satisfaction on occasion and even then only in isolated minutiae. The star turns will be what you take away from it, the story and plot sadly taking a back seat, especially in the in-credits character conclusions which tie everything up far too neatly and don't necessarily suit everything that happened before hand.

Look further...

'a perfunctory look back at the films of yore that never amounts to anything beyond being distinctly average' - Desert Of The Reel, 5/10


  1. Hmmm this film seems very intriguing to me, but I will take your word for it. Great blog you have here, and you have a new follower!

  2. Thanks Matt, good to hear! There are plenty of more worthy gangster films to see before you check this out. It's not awful and worth checking out for the performances but wouldn't have it as a top priority or anything.