William Monahan is definitely one of my favorite screenwriters as I’ve always found myself eagerly awaiting for his next rumored projects. However, as this film was his first gig as both a screenwriter and a director, I guess the old adage holds true in this case. “There’s always a first time for everything.” This film is a mashed of subplots that had it not because of the splendor actings from its thespian participants, and its deft and sharp dialogs exchange (don’t read the subtitles, if possible), it would be a bore inducing feat to endure.
Fresh from jail, Mitchell (Colin Farrell, in another role worthy of his capability) who tries to look for a simple honest job, found himself incapable to escape his past and sooner than he had wished for, found himself tangled with a gossip-ridden starlet, Charlotte (Keira Knightley) and her man-in-waiting, Jordan (David Thewlis), a multitude of who is who in London’s underworld, and a homeless man mingled a couple of talented soccer youths for a good measure. Sounds convoluted? Well, it was.
The first and foremost problem to this film is that it has a bit too many stories to tell that oft times, I found it a bit hard to put my focus on. Worse, the film had been cut by the local distributor in a way that I feel there’s something subtle but thoroughly annoyingly missing during one of its paparazzi scene and I can’t say that I’m a fan of its ending. In a way, I feel like it’s giving me a finger. There’s a difference with an open ended ending, and a gaping hole ending. This film’s ending was the latter.
The film’s redeeming factor fortunately, was the quality of its acting and with a tiny-bit of a stretch, its script. Actually, not until a bit halfway to the middle that I personally found the script to be particularly amusing. Narrowing it down further, not until David Thewlis, as Jordan made his first appearance that the script started to take a turn to the amusing boulevard. Quite definitely, he is the scene stealer of this film and to a very good cause.
Colin Farrell did an amiable job and looks very comfortable to fit into a hitman’s shoe but his chemistry with the leading lady, Keira Knightly was sorely lacking although this has got to be attributable to the way the film had treated and developed her character. David Thewlis was as I had said earlier, quite amazing. As well as the majority of other prominent casts whom I think were the prominent names in the British film industry. Ray Winstone is one, at least, and he’s quite an intimidating figure especially during his first monologue. Anna Friel is another, and Eddie Marsan, and Stephen Graham. All in all, if you’re familiar with British films, this one has a plenty of familiar faces and they’re as I had often said, setting themselves apart from their American counterparts. Pity that it chooses and tries to focus on several things at once instead of pushing one as a prominence with others in a more supportive fashion.
My rating: **1/2 / **** – All I could say to William Monahan’s first fare as a director was that I hope he learned enough for his sophomore project because this one, well, let’s just say that “there’s always a first time for everything.” Greatly redeemed by the quality of its acting, the film rarely holds itself together and lacks focus as it gradually nibbling on itself, until it finally falls apart in the end.