Original review featured on The Doha Film Institute website.
Following a screenwriting Oscar win for Martin Scorcese’s ‘The Departed’, William Monahan embraces a very different challenge in ‘London Boulevard’ marking his directorial debut, and taking an intimate look at London’s insensible dark corners.
After 3 years in prison, Mitchel assesses his past life and decides he wants to clean up his act. He takes a job with superstar actress Charlotte (Keira Knightley) who lives with a bohemian guardian and former actor named Jordan (David Thewlis). Mitchel begins to fall in love with his new employer, and discovers a world of danger, for them both. His first struggle is the obsession of paparazzi with Charlotte’s personal life. He knows he will add fuel to the tabloid fire if the media discovers their relationship. Charlotte is disturbed, unsecure, lonely and fearful. Mitchel stepped into her life just when she needed it the most. In Mitchell, she sees protection and confidence, but confidence he will have to fight to maintain.
While his relationship develops, Mitchell is forcefully dragged back into the London underground. First, the brutal death of an old dear friend sets him on a path of vengeance. Next, Gant (Ray Winstone) clearly one of London’s most fearful characters, wants Mitchel to work for him, because of his tough reputation. But saying no to Grant means provoking a war, the kind of enmity that only translates into the language of guns and innocent blood. Grant controls the four corners of London and is well aware of Mitchel’s weaknesses: his love for Charlotte, and, his love for his sister. There’s only one way for Mitchel to end the problems this creates, once and for all, by pulling a gun on those who refuse to let him lead a decent life.
One thing the film makes you want to do is scream, “Leave him alone!”. Mitchel’s sincere wish to withdraw from bad boy games endears the audience to him. He’s a gangster indeed, but the type that fits in a suit for a fancy dinner, and looks good with a bloody nose. Collin Farrel did a wonderful job combining noble emotions in this gangster’s face.
Along with our protagonist’s unwanted battles, the film carries strong gestures toward the racist and fanatic issues of multicultural London. In one scene, a Muslim veiled woman is shown in the background. In the next, a group of Christian sisters pass by, wearing similarly conservative clothes. Within this mixed cultural context, chaos erupts.
This is the type of crime film that tells its story with attitude. Now playing in Doha! Don’t miss it!