Tuesday 5 September 2017

Film: 'The Limehouse Golem'

('Limehouse' = a locality in east London, 'Golem' = a certain magically-created, mythical creature)

A film based on a novel by the justifiably renowned Peter Ackroyd, it was to have had the late Alan Rickman in the lead as Scotland Yard detective (and whose premature departure still impoverishes the cinema world) but whose shoes are now more than ably filled by the marvellous Bill Nighy in a rare, non-comedic role.

It's a gory, late-Victorian tale of mysterious serial killings, all swirling London fog and gaslights, set against the music hall of the 1880s.  There seems to be no connection between the several victims - varying ages, occupations and sex. Four suspects come to the fore, two of whom are music hall star and female impersonator, Dan Leno (Douglas Booth), as well as none other than Karl Marx   (Henry Goodman) himself. As they are identified in turn, we see in imagined flashback each of them committing the murders.

Nighy has as his investigating sidekick an on-duty police constable in the capable form of Daniel Mays. 
The main female role is taken by Olivia Cooke, the wife of one of the chief suspects, but whom I was very disappointed to find was one of those mumble-mumble actresses who might as well have been speaking in an unfamiliar foreign tongue as far as I was concerned,  I could scarcely catch a word she uttered, especially in her dialogues with Nighy, whose own diction was crystal clear, even when spoken in an undertone.

It's all very atmospheric, though almost entirely dimly lit. The plot was somewhat too convoluted for simple minds like mine to grasp readily, though I did find the second hour was starting to make sense.
When the 'guilty' party was named I thought that it appeared almost too clear cut to turn out to be so, which turned out to be true, though I didn't guess the outcome which, on its disclosure, drew gasps of astonishment from the audience. It was a satisfying moment.

This is only American director Juan Carlos Medina's second full-length cinema feature, and on the strength of this he does hold out some promise. It's a shame that the female lead, here in a really major part with a great deal of on-screen time, and who I've little doubt may well have potential as a fine actress, lets the side down by her lazy articulation. Otherwise I'd have rated the film higher than............6.


  1. I only read the number 6 !
    Off to see it on friday
    Saw a good french movie tonight " Scribe"

    1. I'm keen to read your take on it, J.G.
      Reviews I've seen have been more positive than mine, as I'm expecting your own to be.

      Didn't know of 'Scribe' which definitely hasn't been to this part of the world. It's the sort of film I usually would see, so I do hope it'll arrive before long - though I see it's a 2016 film, and time is getting on.

    2. It has only just been released in the UK, Ray.

    3. Yes, last Friday, Rachel. I hope you can get to see it - that is IF you want to.

  2. I'll look out for this. I'll watch anything with Bill Nighy in it. He is my catnip!

    1. I can assure you that you won't feel let down, Judith. Bill Nighy never disappoints anyway, and though this is a long way from his usual parts he more than makes up for the film's other faults. I'd like to see this again in any case, which is more than I could say for the one I saw after it.