I have received a preview copy of William Monaghan’s London Boulevard and I have been asked to review it. This really isn’t an easy task as there are some parts of this film that work brilliantly and others that befuddle the mind. The cast in this film is impeccable. We have Collin Farrell as the near mythic gangster Mitchell. Than we have Kiera Knightly as the reclusive actress/love interest. To fill out the cast we have the menacing Ray Winstone as Bad guy with David Thewlis as a wacky hippy. There are more and as you watch it you will think you are in a Guy Ritchie film but unfortunately no.
The plotline is a weird mix of Notting Hill and Carlito’s way and that is the best way to explain it. There is more to it but that is the gist of it. Collin Farrell plays the gangster trying for redemption brilliantly and you wish that the film centred more on this but they throw in the Notting hill storyline and it confuses the plot and upsets the tone. This is one of the first films where I was jarred out of immersion. Don’t get me wrong the film is brilliantly acted. I even like Keira Knightly but the issue lies with two plotlines that at first seem unique but then the character arc conflicts can’t exist in both worlds.
You will also watch this film and you will feel like you have seen it before but luckily the actors involved make you want to see more even though you already know how it ends. On paper or even in a movie pitch this film should work. I am sure even the script reads brilliantly but to see it onscreen is another issue altogether. This film only has one problem... and it’s Writer/Director William Monaghan. This is the prime example of how a writer can sometimes fall when directing. Each scene in itself is amazingly written. The dialogue has that brilliant cockney menace to it that you haven’t heard better since the Ritchie films. When Farrell or Winstone threaten you feel a shudder of fear and excitement as the words roll off their tongues but they film decides to add the Notting hill section and whilst you enjoy watching those scenes you would enjoy them more as separate films.
Back to the issue of Monaghan. He is an amazing writer but he lacks the directors skill of seeing what adapts to the screen as well as what should be cut. In a seasoned director’s hands this film would have stuck to one tone the whole film which would have kept the viewer engaged and ready for what was coming next. Sometimes changing an old formula doesn’t always work..I am looking at you New Coke??
There really isn’t much more I can tell you. If I was watching sections of this film I would say it was brilliant but together it is just directing gone wrong.
As a DVD/Bluray this is a film that is worthy of owning but depending on the price. I see Monaghan getting better at his directing as there are some glorious moments but that won’t be for another couple of films. It is good to won so you can have the Monaghan collection. The special features on my copy are disappointing as someone just set up a camera on the press junket you only get talking heads . Rent or buy it now and tell us what you think.