Opening 1 Dec 2011
London Boulevard is a little bit of: Notting Hill (Julia Roberts & Hugh Grant) and The Bodyguard (Kevin Costner & Whitney Houston) and a lot of: “gangster film, with an ex-con finding himself surrounded by ‘old buddies’ who won’t allow him to shake his past”. Latter is Mitchel (Colin Farrell) who has served time for ‘letting his violent temper have the better of him”. Billy Norton (Ben Chaplin) is a not too clever ex-pal who is supposed to ‘persuade’ him to work for Gant (Ray Winstone), a powerful London gangster boss. But through a chance encounter Mitchell lands a job as live-in super and bodyguard for Charlotte (Keira Knightley), a reclusive movie star. His main task is to keep the relentless paparazzi off his pretty employer - and he does a fine job, considering that they seem quite as ruthless as the hardened criminals that otherwise cross his path. The ensuing romance with Charlotte makes Mitchel’s life more complicated than it already is. Gant, who doesn’t take ‘no’ for an answer ever, has now even more leverage against him.
First the film moves fast and fun with great cinematography and good music, then loses ‘the beat’. The unconvincing ‘spark-less’ romance between Charlotte and Mitchell is (thankfully) not given much room. Knightley - miscast? misdirected? - doesn’t do much more than make a pouty face. The film’s strength lies in a number of great rolls: Colin Farrell’s snappily dressed ‘Mitchel’ can convincingly be kind and upright as well as cruel and unscrupulous. Anna Friel gives a simply delicious performance as his sexy, always-in-trouble, addicted-to-everything sister. Ray Winstone as the bon-vivant gangster-boss. David Thewlis as the stylish (costumes by Odile Dicks-Mireaux) “Jack-of-all-trades” Bohemian, who practically lives in Charlotte’s kitchen and who may not actually have a job in this odd household but rather a purpose - and if that is ‘our amusement’! The movie has the best preconditions. A great cast lead by Colin Farell as the ex – and then on again gangster Mitchell; great music, great camera. (Carola A)