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Review: London Fields

London Fields
3 10

PLOT: In a rapidly deteriorating London, an American writer (Billy Bob Thornton) becomes obsessed with his neighbor, a gorgeous clairvoyant named Nicola Six (Amber Heard) who’s had a vision of herself dying at the hands of a mystery man. Meanwhile, she toys with the affections of a married rich man (Theo James) and a low-level thug (Jim Sturgess).

REVIEW: LONDON FIELDS has had so much behind the scenes turmoil that its eventual release, over three years after it was pulled from the Toronto International Film Festival due to a dispute between the director and the producers, feels anti-climactic. This is most certainly dated now, for a whole host of reasons. For one, lawsuits have been flying back and forth, with star Amber Heard herself being faced with a messy $10 million lawsuit. Certainly, I’m sure it’s a film Heard would rather forget, given that it co-stars, in a showy supporting part, her now ex-husband Johnny Depp (not that his image is being used to sell the film).

It’s a messy, wannabe-epic, with director Matthew Cullen, best known for his music videos, clearly having tried to make a STRANGE DAYS-style future noir epic, but the material just ain’t there. It’s based on an acclaimed novel by Martin Amis, but one can only assume something got lost in the translation as the story is as ho-hum as you can get. Basically, Heard is your quintessential femme fatale, proving the ruin of any man in her orbit, while a hard-boiled Billy Bob Thornton, who’s writing a (terrible looking) novel about her life (title: “The Murderee”) looks on and narrates.

The movie rests pretty much on Heard’s shoulders, and while she’s certainly as gorgeous as the role demands, she lacks a certain mystery. Had someone like Sharon Stone made this twenty years ago it might have worked. Heard, as lovely as she is, feels too familiar, almost like a girl next door. She doesn’t convey the enigmatic nature someone like Eva Green might have brought to the part. Frankly, she was miscast. She’s not the only one though. Of them all, only Billy Bob Thornton manages to escape unscathed, with Theo James at his most boring, lacking the edge of a man driven to madness by love, while Jim Sturgess is horribly grating as the low-level thug in their orbit. His performance is so over-the-top he feels like a character out of an R-rated episode of Benny Hill.

As for Johnny Depp, he plays a small but pivotal part as a loan-shark/darts champ, who comes into play during the big darts competition showdown finale. Given the off-screen drama between him and Heard, it’s tough to watch them act out this sado-masochistic courtship, while Depp does his usual, ultra-broad, heavily disguised thing as a London low-life.

All in all, LONDON FIELDS is a movie that probably should have been scrapped as the behind-the-scenes drama makes it all but impossible to judge on its own merits. Even without that though, I’m stunned TIFF ever put it in the lineup, although it’s possible the version they saw was superior to the one hitting VOD this week. Only check this out if you’re the curious type – but even then it’s only worth a twenty minute or so peek.


 

Source: JoBlo.com

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