Decided to repost this one, now that Penny Dreadful is all the rage and Eva Green is a big huge shooting sex starlet from the constellation of SteamySexMcStarShine.
Modern day London: Emilia, a suicidal young artist, attempts to turn her brushes with death into masterpieces; Milo, a young man left stranded at the altar, seeks solace in a childhood friend; and Peter, a divorced father, goes to great lengths to find his missing, mentally disturbed son.
Unbeknownst to any of them, their fates are slowly being brought together by the actions of a masked vigilante named Jonathan Preest, who exists in an alternate dimension known as Meanwhile City. Ruled by religions from the obscure to the ridiculous, the Atheist Preest is seeking the leader of a cult called the Duplex Ride, a twisted and dangerous man known only as The Individual. Four years earlier, The Individual murdered the little girl that Preest was assigned to rescue, and used his power and influence to have Preest locked safely away. Now on the loose, Preest is determined to find and kill The Individual, but the only way to get to him is through the streets of modern day London and the lives of three people who know neither Preest, nor each other.
Franklyn is the full length directorial debut by Gerald McMorrow, a virtual unknown whose IMDb resume is startlingly empty, listing only one other credit for a short film called Thespian X. However, if Franklyn is any indication of his abilities, I think McMorrow just might enjoy a lucrative career in the vein of Alex Proyas and Guillermo Del Toro if he plays his cards right.
At its core, Franklyn is a character study of the depressed, damaged, and delusional, and the myriad outlets they create to deal with their darkness and pain. At first, the gorgeously Steampunk inspired world of Meanwhile City seems like a totally separate entity, a movie in itself, completely unrelated to the lives of Emilia, Milo, and Peter. But slowly, gracefully, the pieces click into place one by one like an elaborate jigsaw.
There’s not a dull moment to be found here, and although there are a few loose threads dangling in your face at film’s end, you can choose to ignore them if you wish. They’re not really all that important. You’ll be too enraptured by Eva’s danse macabre (007 fans will remember her as Vesper from Casino Royale), Milo’s autumnal fairy tale and the Dark City/Hellboy/Brazil inspired landscape where Ryan Phillipe wanders, clad in a mask and burdened by a tragedy which both owe a lot to Watchmen’s Rorschach. Phillipe doesn’t have the raw power of Jackie Earle Haley’s haunted vigilante, and he’s never going to be a favorite actor of mine (his overall presence about as intriguing as a bar of generic white soap, if I must be brutally honest), but thankfully, the dystopian beauty of Meanwhile City fills in the blanks, as dark as Dark City, as clockwork intricate as Hellboy, and populated with a richly imaginative cast of creatures which should please Steampunk enthusiasts.