LONDON ROAD, according to its press release, is a "verbatim musical" -- one in which its writer, Alecky Blythe, uses the transcript of her interviews with the of residents of that titular street in Ipswich, England, to create the lyrics for all the dialog we hear in this new musical film, which has then been set to a rhythmic, pulsating score by Adam Cork, said to be inspired by the dialects and intonations of the residents interviewed. The result is a knockout of a movie that compares to little else that TrustMovies has ever seen.
Rufus Norris (shown at right), from an award-winning British theater piece of the same name (which Norris also directed), the movie version has been "opened out" so perfectly that it never betrays its "theater" roots. The subject? Well, that's an interesting question.
Initially, it would seem to be the murder of five prostitutes in the Ipswich area who worked along London Road. Yet we never see the murders, nor do we find out anything about the dead women, other than their line of work. We also -- and this is key, I think -- never meet, see nor hear their killer, who, during the course of this film, we learn is caught and then convicted of the crime.
Olivia Colman, above, at one point even insinuates that the killer may have done the community am actual favor by "offing" the hookers.)
Nick Holder, playing one of the inhabitants of the titular road.)
Javier de Frutos, in tandem with the direction by Mr. Norris, is often brilliant in its use of simple facial or neck movement to underscore points. Note the scene in which the townspeople await in the street the arrival of the killer in a police van. The movement here makes for brilliant, subtle cinema experienced as a kind of stationary dance. And the energy level? It's staggering. The film is alive and moving at every moment, (That's Anita Dobson, playing one of the elderly neighbors, shown above.)
Kate Fleetwood, above) looks quietly at all these goings-on, allows us again to be made aware of the other side of the coin. I was not a particular fan of Norris' earlier film, Broken, but I shall remember and treasure this one for a long time. I can't imagine any caring, intelligent film/theater-goer not rushing headlong to the cinema to see the kind of surprising, encompassing art that can be made from the most unexpected of sources.
Tom Hardy, shown above and below, who has but a small role as a taxi driver and fills it to perfection. So he can sing, too? Is there anything this actor cannot do?
BBC Worldwide North America, opens this coming Friday, September 9, in New York City at the Village East Cinema and the following Friday, September 16, in Los Angeles at The Sundance Sunset Cinema and Laemmle's Playhouse 7 in Pasadena. Elsewhere? Perhaps, if word-of-mouth takes off as it should. Otherwise, we'll have to wait for it on digital or DVD -- at which time, I hope, it will come complete with English subtitles. I could have used them while watching the screening link supplied. Still, what a pleasure it will be to see this film again, with those subtitles at the ready.