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Review: London Road

Also known as “that movie in which Tom Hardy sings but isn’t that great at it”, Rufus Norris’s London Road is a fascinating experiment in what happens when a movie just does not quite ‘work’.

Yet it still contains a great deal of intrigue and insight, and makes for a compelling watch. The film is based on the stage musical and features a filming style which is quite probing and in-depth. London Road is a musical based upon the Ipswich Killer and commissioned by the Royal National Theatre and screened in TIFF’s City to City London program as a part of last year’s festival.

It’s perhaps a difficult proposition to watch a film that is based upon a series of grisly murders in London Road. Perhaps the film (and musical) can be seen a light parody of a media sensation. The film could use a heavy dose of megastar Hardy to sell the enterprise, though the actor appears very briefly and plays a driver in a similar fashion than he did in Locke, though it is really and truly him.

Better still is Olivia Colman, though what is so interesting about London Road is that the songs aren’t exactly songs, but rather a collection of spoken dialogue that isn’t quite dialogue but is more sung than spoken.

There is a fascinating sequence featuring the younger generation in a department store that approaches the whirling nature of a show like this one, though it is quite a restrained affair throughout, making its thematic undertones actually quite subtle, which is a surprising utterance to make about a serial killer musical. It is restrained in that the killer isn’t shown and nor are the victims. This is a story about fear and doubt and focuses on the neighbours and the media and the sensationalism of these crimes. Oh, and there is one heck of an ending. This is still a show that is worth viewing even though it’s an experiement that may not work.

[star v=3]

London Road is playing in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver.