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The Man from London (A Londoni Férfi)

Film No Stars

I can't begin to tell you how much of a painful start to the festival this was. Let me put it like this, I've never fallen asleep during a film before, I can say that I have now.

It was a mere blink, but it remained a constant struggle to remain awake all through the film. Let me tell you why. The film was filled with long and incredibly slow camera movements, which were there to do nothing more than keep the audience occupied while nothing really happened.

Some scenes the camera remained still, this was to capture a shot that looked great in black and white, the way the entire film was shot, and they remained still for an uncomfortable amount of time, making you wonder if the picture would ever change or something ever happen.

TheManFromLondon.jpgThis worked only once, and even then it was dragged on too long. The wife of a man accused of stealing money from someone sits staring past the camera as emotion slowly builds and the tears begin to gather.

Other than that the style is painful from the opening five minutes.

Let's see if I can give you the story easily enough. Two men arrive on a boat late at night and the man who does the night shift at the docks sees them. One goes ashore and the other remains on the boat and throws a suitcase ashore.

Later the man on night shift sees them fighting and one falls in the sea and is lost. When the other man leaves, the night watchman heads over to the water and rescues the case. It's filled with money.

Now there's obviously a conclusion, and a little view of the man's life, but that really is all the story. It's pulled out by elongated scenes of nothing but camera work and nice looking scenery.

However I do have to say that the black and white cinematography does look good, particulalry during night scenes. What has been attempted here is to recreate film noir, and it would have worked if there hadn't been so much wasted film.

Not even an appearance by Tilda Swinton can save the film, mainly because she speaks in English and is heavily overdubbed. I found myself more distracted by how her performance was so different to the voice.

Speaking of the voices, the acting didn't seem to require that much, and the delivery of the lines were flat, monotone and deliberately paced.

There were a couple of interesting moments, but strangely neither were intended. The two men who were selling a fox throw to the man's daughter seemed like the characters straight out of British comedy - “Suits you Sir!”.

The second one was a moment where the main character opens a shed door, lets two other characters inside, and closes it behind them. He stands in the same spot, obviously having been told to, then when the door is opened again it's right in his face and he stands completely still in the same spot. A couple of comedy moments.

Overall though it was a relief when it ended, and in fact when each drawn out scene ended. It actually got to the point where the elongated scenes and moments of nothing were becoming quite satirical, and on a few occasions I laughed. Mind you at others I shook my head.

The Man from London (A Londoni Férfi)
UK IMDB Film Details



Too right! I saw this just last week as part of the Melbourne Film Festival and... it was a struggle to stay away. I don't mind the stagnant photography though (similar to Van Sant's recent work) but here it's just a shot of someone walking and then that's it. Or a shot of someone staring at something that we can't see. Or just a five minute shot of a wall. Ugh. Terrible.


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