Flickering Myth’s writing team pick out those hidden gems you might have missed; next up is Robert D. Spake with…
Directed by Gerald McMorrow.
Starring Eva Green, Ryan Phillipe, Sam Riley, Bernard Hill, James Faulkner and Art Malik.
Franklyn is a thought-provoking film split into two narratives. One is set in contemporary London, the other in the grim metropolis of Meanwhile City, where there’s a strict authoritarian regime that has an iron grip on the city, and a masked man called Preest seeks to destabilise their ruthless control of the population. The two narratives reflect and explore agonising truths about human existence and even though they’re set in two separate worlds they blend with each other seamlessly.
Meanwhile City is a beautiful rendition of gothic architecture, and that world is drenched in paranoia and fear as we follow the vigilante Preest on his quest to free a girl from indoctrination by The Powers That Be. Enemies and danger are lurking around every corner as he tries to stay one step ahead of the Duplex Ride sect. In London the world continues as normal, except for a few people who are preoccupied with their own personal tragedies. One man is trying to hold onto the ideal of true love after having his heart shattered, a woman is struggling to find a reason to live, and a man is searching for his lost son who may have done something drastic.
Each of their stories is unique and yet they share strong similarities. The film does a superb job of examining the fragility of the human soul as we watch these lost people search for a meaning to their existence. They all yearn for something, even if they’re not quite sure what it is, and they all seem to be drifting towards an abyss of despair. But despite how dark and depressing this may seem there is actually an empowering message at the heart of it. One of the main themes is that no matter how bleak life may seem there is always the possibility of hope and redemption, even if it may be beyond the realms of your perception.
When I first watched this film I was engrossed from start to finish, and when the credits began to roll I had to sit there for a few moments to process everything. Initially I was drawn to the stylish fantasy of Meanwhile City, but I was soon captivated by the stories set in London as well. Each actor gave a strong performance; Eva Green had perhaps the most complex character, which she imbued with a great deal of humanity. I was impressed by Sam Riley, and Bernard Hill’s presence was quiet and measured, but still powerful. The four main actors showed different manifestations of tortured souls and the anguish of the human condition was expertly captured.
Franklyn packs a lot into a mere 98 minutes, but it never feels rushed or congested. It’s well-balanced, well-paced and the disparate elements of the story come together for a fulfilling conclusion. It’s been a few years since I first watched it and it’s still one of my personal favourites. It’s an enduring film that only becomes deeper and more thematic upon re-watches. When we decided to do this feature I immediately knew that Franklyn was going to be the first one I was going to cover. The various philosophical threads weaved throughout the film provide much fodder for discussion, but it never veers into pretentiousness or loses sight of the fact that it’s still a movie meant to entertain.
The concepts Franklyn explores and the stunning depiction of Meanwhile City mean it is a film that will stay on your mind long after you watch it, and it will be a film you’ll want to revisit before too long.