M.   /   February 11, 2009   /   15 Comments

Even the makers of Franklyn, the “British Blade Runner”, struggle to tell our correspondent what it’s about

Kevin Maher

It’s late at night on the cobbled winter streets of East London, and the cast and crew of the ambitious new Britflick Franklyn are struggling with semantics. “It’s a somewhat arty philosophical science fiction romance thriller,” says the film’s 29-year-old star Sam Riley, hands deep in raincoat pockets, tongue only half in cheek, as he describes his first film since playing Joy Division’s Ian Curtis in the award-winning Control. But Franklyn, whose filming is due to culminate this very night in a side street shoot-out and rain-soaked reconciliation, is proving impossibly difficult to explain, to distil or to quantify.

The movie, which follows four separate yet intertwined narrative journeys that weave through both contemporary London and an futuristic dystopia, is, says its producer Jeremy Thomas (Sexy Beast), “Genre-busting, genre bending and genre breaking. It’s a genre of no genre.”

Over in the corner, the 28-year-old Casino Royale Bond Girl Eva Green has a go. “It’s a metaphysical movie about fate,” says the pale-eyed beauty. “People who only know me as Vesper from Bond are going to be quite shocked.”

Her writer-director, the promo and commercials veteran Gerald McMorrow, strolls by and offers: “It’s an urban fairytale fantasy drama, with a parallel world aspect to it.”

Cut to 14 months later and the prospect of pigeon-holing Franklyn remains elusive. The movie’s narrative ostensibly follows a gloomy lover called Milo (Riley) who’s been jilted at the altar, but who catches glimpses of an old childhood sweetheart, Sally (Green), drifting through his London haunts. Sally is the double of a suicidal video artist called Emilia (also Green) who has a penchant for filming her own attempted overdoses on camera. Emilia’s plans for a final reel blowout, however, are interrupted when the man in the flat upstairs turns out to be a part-time comic book anti-hero called Preest (Ryan Phillippe), who lives mostly in a dark futureworld that looks like something from a medieval Blade Runner, is called Meanwhile City and is populated by religious zealots.

“When you’re writing and putting together something like this you know that it’s not going to be easy for the marketing department,” explains McMurrow, 38, who cut his teeth on pop promos for Catatonia and commercials for AOL before directing the award-winning short Thespian X (a futuristic sci-fi parable). “But you have to retain a certain naivety, not worry about that, and just keep going.”

This, he adds, mostly involved using the movie’s £7 million budget to transform London locations into credible future spaces. The rooftops of the Victoria & Albert Museum played a part in a key nightscape scene, while Greenwich Naval College became Meanwhile City’s main street.

Both hot up and comers, Riley and Green leapt at the chance to steer away from the mainstream. Green says: “I hadn’t done much and had a lot to prove, so something like this was far more challenging and better for your soul than the big movie machines.”

Surprisingly, the finished Franklyn actually makes a lot of sense. The seemingly disparate narrative strands mostly come together in a satisfying closing act. And yet it’s the thematic hints, the narrative fractures and the curious visual diversions (what were those tattoos on his back? What does the Renaissance tableau mean? Who is the janitor?) that make it such a perplexing experience — one likely to motivate devotion and derision in equal measure. “But I like films like that,” says McMorrow, hinting that Franklyn might require a second viewing before it even begins to reveal itself. “The first thing I did after seeing Michael Haneke’s Hidden was go back and see it all over again. I like films that draw you back to them, because life isn’t perfect and things don’t ever tie up neatly.”

Riley, who has since starred opposite Mickey Rourke and 50 Cent (“Or Two Bob, as I like to call him”) in the forthcoming Russian roulette drama 13, is similarly convinced that we should embrace the enigma in Franklyn, not hide from it. “You come out of it going, ‘I’m not really sure what I’ve just seen’,” he says. “It’s the alternative to the alternative.”

Thomas, who won a Best Picture Oscar for The Last Emperor, says that he has no illusions about how Franklyn will fare when dropped into the marketplace against “traditional” comic-book extravaganzas such as Watchmen (“It had 20 times our budget”), but that he still hopes to find an audience. “I never intended this film to challenge Watchmen or Batman,” he says. “It’s like the corner shop trying to deal with Tesco. But that doesn’t mean that the corner shop can’t be very successful.”

McMorrow, in the meantime, shows no signs of restraining his wilder impulses, and is working on three new projects, including a full-length animation and a thriller about Native Americans, but set in Manhattan. He says that he hopes Franklyn will show other aspiring British film-makers that they can do more besides “Richard Curtis comedies and mockney gangster movies. You can get out there and start experimenting, tell stranger, weirder stories. And if it doesn’t work it’s not a disaster. It’s just important to be able to try.”

Franklyn is released on Feb 27

Source: Times Online

15 Responses to “What is Franklyn actually about?”
  1. Liz Says:

    A very detailed description. Fortunately, they don’t give too much away=)

    Now, a very special moment especially for all people living in Germany and Italy: Franklyn will release in both countries in March!!!!
    In Germany, it can be seen in seven different cities during the Fantasy Filmfest Nights and in Italy, it will be out in cinema March 13th.
    Also check imdb:
    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0893402/releaseinfo
    and the Filmfest’s site:
    http://www.fantasyfilmfest.com/index.html

    Aren’t that great news?? I was excited the entire afternoon and even now I cannot believe it. That’s so amazing!
    Whoever initiated this, thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!

  2. Tango_down Says:

    Liz : If you have any news concerning France, please let me know ! Thx !

  3. George Says:

    Tango_down: Go to Germany to accompany Liz in Franklyn’s premiere 🙂 .

  4. Tango_down Says:

    George : We’re going in Germany on the two last weeks of April, if Franklyn will still be on screen at that moment, I think 2 translators won’t be superfluous for me.

    I’m projecting to learn seriously german… one day.

  5. Liz Says:

    Tango_down: That’s exactly what I wanted to suggest;)
    It depends on where you live in France, which city would be the nearest. But I think it is Cologne.
    Further cities are Berlin, Hamburg, Stuttgart, Nuremberg, Munich and Frankfurt.
    I’ll watch it at Frankfurt, that’s certain… Kathi will accompany me. Maybe you remember her from some posts last year.

    Besides, I don’t know if I shall go to London nonetheless because if Eva promotes the movie there, I will turn crazy because I miss her…
    What do you recommend?

  6. Johnny Says:

    Liz: You’re so lucky! I’m still hoping that Franklyn will be released here… At least on DVD. Well, we never know 🙁 … If Franklyn is premiering in Germany in a film festival, there’s a good chance to see Eva attending! But London is London, I mean, even if Eva doesn’t attend the premiere, there’s always the possibility of bumping into her on the street 😀

    Now to all EGWers: if anyone has any information concerning the release of Franklyn in ANY country, please share, because, as we know, there are fans of Eva all over the world impatient to see Franklyn. That way we can all help each other 🙂

    Probably you’ve already seen it, but on imdb Cracks is being released in France this year on October 14!

  7. Tango_down Says:

    Liz : I have the feeling that when you live in Paris, each german city are very far 😆
    Do you often come on french cities like Strasbourg, Nancy or Metz ?

    I have no suggestion, but don’t go to London just for Eva but also as short holidays, in that case holidays even short are always good, you’ll certainly enjoy your time there.
    Concerning Eva, I’ve already said that but I truly believe things you’re expecting most to happen only do at the most unexpected moment.
    For example, you’ll fly to London and won’t see Eva during your trip, and coming back to Frankfurt she’ll suddenly appear in front of you at the airport lol
    For my part, I go working each day on Paris in the district where her parents live without seeing her anytime, and it will be the day where I’ll strangely decide to go for a trip about thousand miles from Paris in Papua New Guinea that I’ll suddenly meet her there 😆
    Who said that God always does things going well ?

  8. George Says:

    Johnny: thanks for the Cracking info.
    Tango_down: you are certainly right regarding unexpected events. But, otherwise life wouldl be so boring…

  9. Liz Says:

    Tango_down: Often would be exaggerated but I go to Strasbourg about two or three times a year. It depends. But i’ve never been to Nancy nor to Metz, only passed by when driving to Paris. But we sometimes drive over to L’Alsace and have a nice day. Good super-marketing;)

    Paris is again on the menu for spring hollydays and I am very looking forward to it!

    I totally agree with your theory. My London plans are abandoned now for the premiere on 27th. It would be too much considering that only one week later I can watch Franklyn in Berlin and only three weeks later in Frankfurt, which is much more nearer to my home!
    But my London visit itself still exists, only the “when” isn’t clear yet.
    I guess I really expected to see Eva at the premiere and that was the reason why I wanted (and actually still want) to go to London this special weekend, which meant I had to play truant for one day. But as you say the expected doesn’t happen very often, you have to wait till the unexpected surprises you.
    I am sure there will be other occasions to go to a premiere of one of Eva’s films and then when I really have time to go there and enjoy my trip in every single part.

    Concerning this “seeing” of Eva, I have a new idea: principal photography of Womb in Berlin and at the North Sea coast;)
    Does anyone know if they have an extra casting??=)

    Tascha: I wish you good luck and enjoy your trip to the premiere. Please, take some pictures for us or even make a video!
    Maybe you can even buy a promo poster=)
    Much fun!!!

  10. George Says:

    Liz: We will go alltogether in her theater premiere in London (when she decide to do some stage work). She will certainly be there…

  11. Liz Says:

    George: LOOOOL
    Are you sure?
    Maybe she has a good double!
    So be careful!!

    P.S. What do you think, shall we start a senseless thread like people did on imdb concerning Daniel Craig and his (non)-appearance on I,Lucifer?
    Check it… it’s too funny…
    lots of rumours and fake stories…

  12. George Says:

    Liz: a good double is impossible. The mould is broken…

  13. Tango_down Says:

    Liz : There are lot of good doubles of Eva in Paris but no perfect one. The Eva Green butterfly’s specimen seems unique, but she’s not intended to be kept behind a glass for any collector, but to fly freely in nature.

    Damn my “space” key is starting to not work very well, it’s annoying !!

  14. George Says:

    Tango_down: …it’s because nature is aversed to voids (…and your keybord is a naturist 🙂 )

  15. Tango_down Says:

    George : When I bought my keyboard it was new, don’t make me afraid by supposing that it belonged to a naturist… :@

    I heard that keyboards and mouses are the dirtiest objects.