London (I) (2005)
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Although it features a cast full of popular young stars, London is not an easy sell in the slightest.. Audiences aren't likely to respond due to its strange and offbeat plot. It reminds me a lot of 1999's Go in this regard, although it is considerably less mainstream. It is truly a character study of many different individuals, all of them reflecting on life as the events unfold before their eyes. It moves at a slow pace but is never boring thanks to excellent performances and stylish direction.
Chris Evans is on screen for almost every frame and delivers another excellent performance. He shows his dramatic chops here and exhibits an ability for both comedy and drama. His character is very complex and has many different layers, all of which are revealed throughout the course of the film. Jason Statham, well-known for his action roles, plays against type here as the straight laced businessman Bateman. He shows his talent in both comedy and drama, and also has great chemistry with Evans. Jessica Biel is radiant and fascinating as London, a woman longing for complete commitment in an otherwise stable relationship. She has strong chemistry with real-life boyfriend Evans and her character is believable and likable. Most of her scenes are flashback sequences, so it is interesting to watch her character progress.
The supporting cast is great for a film of this size. Joy Bryant is solid as Mallory and gets the most to do of the side characters. Kelli Garner makes an impression but isn't given a whole lot to do, maybe appearing for fifteen minutes total. Isla Fisher, who was hilarious in last year's Wedding Crashers, gives another strong comedic performance here as the naive and unsuspecting party host. The rest of the actors are fairly insignificant overall, with most being reduced to mere walk-on roles (such as comedian Dane Cook).
Richards writes and directs this project and shows great promise in his first outing. The direction is stylish and he finds many interesting takes to use - making the film easy to watch and helping it from dragging on. The screenplay is also solid. It seems like something originally written for the stage, but it works on film thanks to the way each scene is handled. While there are comedic elements, there are also several sweet and poignant scenes. The best scene in the film is the final confrontation between London and Syd in an airport. The Crystal Method provides the score for the film, a techno-fringed mixture of various beats that fits well with the tone of the film.
Overall, I can see why London isn't appreciated by critics and won't be embraced by audiences. It's a strange film that requires patience from the viewer due to its slow pace. But thanks to excellent performances and stylish direction, it turns out to be a completely fascinating and involving tale.
However, even though bitchy, rich yuppies are not likable characters, the movie portrays them very accurately. Having spent some time with "these people", I felt the movie was incredibly honest and dealt with pertinent issues. Maybe not pertinent to you in particular, but pertinent to these types of people in this age group.
The acting is really superb. Chris Evans strips down his likable "flaming" side to become an annoying, ego-maniacal prick. Stratham gives a powerful performance, which for some reason screams of Bruce Willis's "finer" work. Biel is the weakest of the main actors, mostly due to the script edging her out of most of the movie. All the actors are right on the money with their characters. Within 10 minutes you start to feel like you've known them for years.
But beyond the drugs, beyond the obnoxious mannerisms, lies a story of a real relationship. By way of flashbacks, but we are given some great insights into how the relationship worked, and how it fell apart. The characters screwed it up, and its amazing watching Syd (Evans) re-live both his best and worst memories. That is the most essential and successful part of the film.
"You can't blame people for being the way they are, only yourself for expecting something else from them..you can change yourself for two reasons.. either you learn enough that u want to or you've been hurt enough that you have to..either way, you make mistakes, you try to learn from them...and when you don't...it hurts even more."
Almost every conversation, mood and situation in this movie I can relate to, and have been in before. I've had the same conversation with a few ex girlfriends when they were trying to push religion on me. So I don't think the dialog was trying to be too pretentious or philosophical at all. It was just portraying the stupid things people argue about that someone may have been very caught up in during the passion of the moment, but then thinking back to them they seem very stupid to fight about.
However, unlike many of the movies in this category, this film is a great one. It's like the story of my breakup, but with a happy ending. Do they (a girl and a boy, always they are) remain together happily every after? It doesn't really matter. The ending is just as smart as the rest of the film.
All the characters play well. Chris Evans is both scary and pitiful in the role of this insanely in love guy, who can't control his jealousy, even if he is a nice non violent guy. Jessica Biel looks hot as always, but even if her character gives the name of the movie, she is not the main character and she really has a small part. Jason Statham has hair in this film! If anything else, this is something to see :) And he plays beautifully. Maybe he is tired of silly action movies. Joy Bryant plays a small part, just looking gorgeous and being a good friend.
Bottom line: a 25-35 demographic movie. I can't imagine kids of under 25 really getting it, although they most desperately should. It's a romantic film of sorts, but a male romanticism. I love these films, as they are so rare these days.
Rating: 2/5 Plot: Two months after getting dumped by a woman named London (Biel), drugged out Syd (Evans) is informed by a phone call that his ex is having a going away party that night and will be leaving town the next day. Enraged and agitated, Syd decides to crash the party and make one final attempt to salvage his relationship with London. Along the way, he picks up Bateman (Statham), a coke-dealing white collar professional who Syd cajoles into accompanying him to the party. Once they arrive, they shack up in an opulent bathroom where they snort massive amounts of smack, debate the existence of God with a pair of passing party-goers, and boorishly compare notes on who has endured greater pain and suffering. Will Syd snap out of his drug-induced haze long enough to speak his peace with London? Is there anything left to reconcile, or can he at least pull himself together enough to move on with his life?
Criticism: The biggest problem with this film is that it's seldom as insightful as it wants to be or thinks it is. Syd and Bateman are not particularly interesting or compelling characters, despite their emotional issues and drug abuse. Their "intellectual" discussions are shallow and trite and flat. They are both so caught up in their insecurities and belligerence that they are incapable of genuinely seeing or feeling for anyone else. The filmmaker is well aware of this, as shown by the use of tag names (acid casualty Syd Barrett of Pink Floyd infamy and Bateman the soulless corporate killer from American Psycho). But the filmmaker refuses to acknowledge that his creations are pathetic and empty. He presents their hollow observations and meaningless chatter as if it were genuine insight. This makes what happens in the last 20 minutes entirely ludicrous, as the film veers suddenly into conventional romantic drama territory that cannot be justified on the basis of what has come before.
Prescriptive Analysis: (spoilers galore) One of the few dead-on moments in the film is in a flashback where London tells Syd that his philosophical discussions are little more than bullying designed to raise himself up by tearing everything else down. The film needs to do more to play up that angle. But first, the Syd character has to be shown as having a little more potential that what is demonstrated here. His "intellectual" repartee needs serious punching up. There are plenty of clever cynics/nihilists to use as models. What he's saying needs to sound attractive and interesting on the surface, so that it can come as a revelation when it's revealed later on in the film as hollow and manipulative self-absorption. Likewise, the numerous flashbacks to his memories of the relationship need to show moments of beauty and understanding and not just the distrust and macho posturing shown here. We need to see that this relationship was something special and we need to feel a sense of tragedy at its loss. We need to see its flaws, especially his flaws which the audience should see even if he doesn't necessarily, at least at the beginning. But we also need to see the beauty when it's not totally swallowed up by the ugliness.
Then there's the issue of those last 20 minutes. Syd and Bateman go downstairs, get into a massive brawl with the party's hosts...and then not only does London leave with Syd, but, after a "deeply meaningful" conversation in which nothing actually deep or meaningful is said or shown, she actually goes to bed with him before catching her plane in the morning. And throughout all this Syd comes across as remarkably together for a man who has indulged in an epically massive cocaine binge.
OK, so how might they have done this instead? Let's keep the fight, but make it even more of a mess. Bateman breaks somebody's nose, the apartment is totally trashed, police get called. Bateman gets arrested, and London has to beg her friend not to press charges against Syd. Syd ends up back in the bathroom, where London comes in to help nurse his injuries. They talk, using some of the dialog from their "deeply meaningful conversation" in the actual film but also more raw anger and hurt from him and a lot more analysis of their relationship's shortcomings from her. Without admitting it, it is here that he has to realize that his intellectualizing is bs and that he's been a totally selfish prick. And, through her tenderness and sadness and invocation of what was beautiful about their relationship, it needs to become clear that she still deeply loves him, though she has made the choice to move on with her life. Perhaps they could fall asleep in the bathroom together, then he takes her to the airport in the morning. The tracking shot at the airport, which is a nicely shot farewell, could then be mostly left intact, only the emotions would be earned.
The plot of the movie revolves around a guy (Chris Evans) buying a bunch of cocaine and hiding in a bathroom during his ex's going away party rather than seeing his ex-girlfriend (Jessica Biel). His drug dealer, Bateman (Jason Statham) is dragged along for the voyage. The movie plays out like what it is, which is two guys getting high on coke and arguing about every little thing that pops into their heads, all the while playing it off like philosophy. If you get stressed out by movies, be aware that the arguments can get quite intense and a couple people I watched the movie with felt a bit stressed out by all the arguing.
Chris Evans plays the main character and is stuck with the decision of saying goodbye or confessing his love to his ex-girlfriend. We are supposed to sympathize and perhaps even do a bit towards the end but for the most part he comes off as an utmost misogynist a-hole jerk that makes you glad that he and his girlfriend are not together anymore.
Jason Statham however, starts out a bit weak and ill defined as a character. However as time goes on, he really blossoms out and shows some acting chops, and in more particular scene he shows an intensity that I found remarkable for someone who is just in the beginnings of his acting career.
So I give this movie a 7, as the ending is satisfying, despite the movie being quite catch as can. The rest of the actors are passable. However, I wished that there was more of the cutie Isla Fisher however. Jessica Biel which is the focus of the movie, basically serves as a periphery to Evans and Statham. As a result you end up rooting for Statham's "Bateman" and wishing him to get the girl. The movie is good, if you are a fan of the actors, then you should see it; if not there are better choices.
Believable, if sometimes annoying, main characters, which i think was the point of the writing.
As a side note i always wondered how they can shoot a movie in a room full of mirrors, have the actors stand right in front of the camera & not see the camera in the mirror behind them. I just wondered.
I thought both Joy Bryant & Jessica Biel were under-utilized in this film. As a matter of fact that's all the films they've been in. But I digress.
Great music by the Crystal Method.
This film makes me interested in what Hunter Richards will do next.
But so what? One doesn't have to be a cocaine-snorting rich kid in New York to see that the existential angst the two main characters (Syd and his friend Bateman) feel is shared at one time or another by just about everyone, regardless of class or context. The old question about whether life imitates art or the other way around applies. The fact that the characters may be self-absorbed or narcissistic or silly doesn't take away the fact that the questions asked in the course of their exchanges do take place between all kinds of people. Don't we all ask these questions about God and existence? Don't we all wonder why He often doesn't seem to listen to prayers? Don't many of us still cling to idea of Him for fear of death and fear of deciding that all that is anywhere or anytime is what we live day to day so that we might as well just find the nearest tall bridge as soon as possible? Are only non-beautiful down-to-earth characters allowed to act out on screen the pain we all feel at least sometimes?
London expressed the failure and pain we all feel at times in a real, if not original or eloquent way. Maybe I have just had a really bad run for the last six months in my life (which I have). London felt pretty good to me, nonetheless. Frankly, as the movie went on, I was drawn in and I screamed inside right there along with Syd and Bateman. It was like the Howard Biehl character in Network screaming out the window, "I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take it anymore" played out over an hour and a half with two guys doing the shouting in a bathroom in between snorting lines of cocaine. In sum, at least for me, this film worked just fine.
also if you liked this movie watch
the rules of attraction
Again.... worth a watch...but not for everyone.
Personally, Syd is the greatest character for any guy that has been in a relationship, along with any guy that has ever turned to drugs for tranquility. I can relate perfectly, and so far every guy i've shown this movie to has been blown away by the familiar situations with girlfriends and paranoia. Truly, Chris Evans gives a unique, perfect role -- (Jessica Biel was his girlfriend during the filming of this movie, which you can actually see how comfortable they are with yelling at each other.)
another interesting aspect is the relationship between Bateman and Syd. It is the truest dialog and reactions I have ever seen in a film. It truly made you forget you were watching a movie, and made you think you were part of the conversation.
London is the perfect opposite/significant other of Syd. Complex, cynical, and basically the typical reactions and responses of a girlfriend are on point. Everything from facial expressions to when she swings at Syd during their argument. Great role for Jessica Biel, phenomenal.
And the third component to this great flick is Bateman. He brings the edge and I was never a fan of Jason Stratham until i saw London. He's raw, sexually frustrated, sexually explosive, and demands your attention when he's talking. His explosiveness during the brawl was just the kind of "pick me up" the viewer needed, following the therapy session in the bathroom.
Joy Bryant plays Mallory - A sexy seductress. Everyone would want a friend like her. She's there with a joint to hear about her friends problems. Perfect compliment to Bateman, whereas she's reserved and laid back. In essence this movie defines drugs; Mallory displays is the calm effect of Weed, Bateman is a coked out nut, who is looking for something more in life. Syd is your typical effects of everything thrown in one, if anyone has ever done several drugs all at once, Syd is what you'll look and feel like.
One of the greatest movies I have ever seen, definitely recommend this movie.
On a side note: I haven't heard of a guy yet that couldn't identify with Syd and Mr. 10.5 inches