Franklyn comes to DVD

Saturday, 27 June 2009 12:42

Looking around at home, through the current wealth of comic book adaptations, “Franklyn” is not a translation from the printed page, but a début feature straight from the mind of its writer-director Gerald McMorrow.  He describes it as “a modern fairytale for cynical times.” The accompanying publicity suggests comparisons with the works of Terry Gilliam (“Brazil”) and Alex Proyas (“Dark City”).  This may be over-stepping the mark, both in terms of content and realisation, but “Franklyn” can stand on its own merits.

Despite the multitude of seemingly disparate plots, it is a simple story concerning loss and the journeys of its four protagonists toward personal redemption. Preest (Ryan Phillipe), the masked, atheist vigilante who guides us through the religious metropolis of Meanwhile City, seeks absolution for failing to save a young girl from death at the hand of cult leader the Individual.  Amelia (Eva Green), adrift in contemporary London, produces ever more extreme performance art as she reflects upon a damaged past.

Franklyn on DVDMilo (Sam Riley), jilted at the altar, finds new hope when he stumbles over a childhood sweetheart - also played by Green, and the first hint of how the threads of the film entwine.  This ensemble is completed by Esser (Bernard Hill), a pious church warden who leaves Cambridge to search London for his estranged son.  As “Franklyn” progresses it gradually draws the four together and reveals the stories behind the sadness that defines them.  Unfortunately the denouement of the film was, for me, the weakest part of an otherwise engaging and enjoyable film.

If “Franklyn” fails to convince it is in the lack of background definition and development of both major and supporting characters.  There is too much focus on Amelia's dysfunction and, given the pivotal role of one character, their background is dealt with in one, brief scene.  Pastor Bone (James Faulkner) is the most enigmatic of the supporting cast and is either well-conceived or a cliché, depending on how you perceive the machinations of the film.  It is also Pastor Bone, more so than Preest, who defines “Franklyn”’s theme of faith.  Preest's hatred of the religious hierarchy that controls the populace of Meanwhile City carries him on his mission; Bone is a reflection on personal faith, faith without the need for a controlling and limiting church.

Throughout the film the photography is consistently good, whether in the well-realised thoroughfares of Meanwhile City or the well-trodden streets of London.  Initial transitions between the two realities are abrupt, but the reason behind this becomes apparent in the later stages of the film and is all the stronger for it.  The music, though not particularly memorable, suits the different stages upon which the story unwinds.

Beyond the portrayal of Meanwhile City's various locations the special effects are minimal, which suits the overall tone of the film.  It is where the alternate realities begin to obviously overlap that the more subtle touches are applied.  “Franklyn” will reward repeated viewing.

Preest will, no doubt, draw comparisons with Rorschach from “Watchmen”, but he is no outcast sociopath, and his narration carries the audience and elicits its sympathy for his situation.  I would gladly have spent more time in his company and his city.

The DVD is completed by an informative thirty-minute feature titled “A Moment in the Meanwhile”, essential viewing for all those who like to see how the elements of a production jigsaw together into the final article.

As a début “Franklyn” is a promises of great things to come!

“Franklyn” is out now, certificate ‘15’, in a DVD version with an RRP of £15.99, or on Blu-Ray with an RRP of £19.99 – or you can find both editions for less at 



Last modified on Thursday, 10 May 2012 16:37

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