DVD Review - London Road

The best musical about a serial killer has to be Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007). Writer Alecky Blythe and musician Adam Cork decided to also make a musical about a serial killer. Blythe didn't invent one like Sweeney Todd. She based her musical on a real, serial killer, except her musical isn't about him, meaning the killer isn't an actual character in this narrative. The musical is instead about the people who live in the same neighborhood, gauging their reactions to the news of his killings, the police's manhunt, the eventual trial, conviction and the aftermath of improving the community. The trick or the gimmick is that the dialogue and lyrics are taken verbatim from interviews conducted with the residents over the course of three years. The actors have to perfectly recreate the interviews' voices and sounds without any deviation, yet it's all sung.

Some of the actual interviews are played during the end credits, but that comparison is less of a concern. The real problem is the principal actors aren't great singers. Perhaps, the premise or the gimmick limits the actors in a way, which is most likely the case. A staple of musicals is singing. If the singing isn't terrific, such as the case with La La Land, then the musical fails. That's why this movie fails.

Director Rufus Norris starts out strong. The camera does something compelling by flying into the homes of the neighbors. The camera almost magically goes from house-to-house, passing through walls and focusing on each house's television. All we hear is unbroken, TV news reports from various journalists. It starts out normal, but slowly the musical aspect builds until all the journalists are singing. It was a clever tactic to introducing us to the gimmick and acclimating us to it.

Unfortunately, there's not much else clever in the rest of the movie. The majority of the rest of the musical numbers are group numbers. Norris manages to choreograph those group numbers quite well. Maybe it's not as spectacular as the opening number in La La Land, but it at times feels just as intricate and complicated. The rest of the songs are basically lackluster.

One of the draws to this movie was the casting of Tom Hardy who was nominated for an Academy Award last year. This movie was probably filmed before his role in The Revenant and Mad Max: Fury Road. Maybe Hardy was a fan of the stage play and just wanted to be involved. Maybe he was fascinated with the murder case, but Hardy is so wasted here. He's basically given one scene and that's it.

It was nice to see Olivia Colman in this movie. Colman was phenomenal in the Emmy-nominated The Night Manager. I fell in love with Colman in that miniseries, so it was a delight to see her here. However, her amazing acting abilities aren't enough to justify this movie, which mostly put me to sleep.

Not Rated but contains language and sexual situations.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 32 mins.


Popular Posts