At last year’s Vancouver International Film Festival, I came across this little film in the program called London Road. It boasted Tom Hardy as being part of a pretty solid cast including Olivia Colman, who I’d enjoyed immensely in The Lobster, another film I had checked out that festival. On the outside, this film is completely original, something I wholeheartedly give it, as there is really nothing like it. The story is something out of suburban Britain’s deep book of horrible tragedy at the hands of a sociopathic monster and the film is partially told as a narrative film with a documentary interview style. Where the film sets itself apart from its ilk is where it lost me in the biggest way possible.
London Road is the true events around a serial killer who murdered five women in the small community of Ipswich, outside of London. Taking place after the discovery of the bodies, the film shows our characters living in a neighborhood under reams of police crime scene tape. A closely knit community who knows everyone’s ups and downs, always quick to dish out the gossip, everyone is shaken in very different ways when it’s revealed that one of the tenants is the murderer that snuffed out the lives of women who had been prostituting in the area. The reactions range from embarrassment for their community to odd selfish remarks as the town tries to pick itself back up into a semblance of everyday life.
With the Tom Hardy billing, I was very excited to see this film as the charismatic actor always picks the most interesting roles and, yes, London Road was that but in the wrong way. One thing I’m not the biggest fan of is musicals, unless it’s a damn good story. This is weird and completely fitting because, in a baffling move, London Road is a film in which almost all of the pertinent dialogue in the film is formed into a terrible sing-song form of musical filmmaking. This only served to nauseate me throughout the film and grate on my nerves for the entire film. Even worse, my reason for seeing the film, Hardy’s performance, is probably three minutes of the hour and thirty-minute duration.
Being a serious subject like murder in a happy and unruffled suburb, the musical addition to London Road seems like a completely tone-deaf action that gives the real root of the film a comedic disrespect. The film is being well received in other circles but the approach that director Rufus Norris and writer Alecky Blythe only rubbed me the wrong way continuously and kept me from fully accessing the real story, which I think is an utter shame. I couldn’t give a damn about any of the characters, their problems or finding any resolution to anything. I just wanted out of a movie that felt like double it’s actual running time. 1/5