A Preest, meanwhile, imagines Franklyn

I’ve just watched Gerald McMorrow‘s debut sf film, Franklyn, which I wanted to see when it came out by it appears to have by passed Oxford. It is an extension of an earlier short film, Thespian X, which featured the suicide attempt video. The film shows four characters – Preest (David), Emilia (Sally), Milo and Peter (The Individual) – who are all lonely and lost in their own worlds of stories.

In the final section of the film, Milo is in a cafe talking to the imaginary Sally when he comments that the story teller sometime gets lost in their own fantasies. McMorrow, who wrote the film a well as directing it, explores the way that so-called lost people interpret the world and make it their own. Doing so, they invent  a cast list who may or may not exist outside their imaginations and delusions. The most extreme delusion is that of Preest, a masked vigilante (Watchmen’s Rorschach perchance?)  who psychotically inverts the world to the point where he is ultimately totally lost and sees himself as the only atheist in a city of believers (even those building religions on the instructions for a washing machine!) as reaction to his own fahter’s faith.

As well as having that narrative, they are visually intertextual with the costumes and sets reminiscent of 1984, period drama and refections of each city in each other. Double Negative, the effects company who have also worked on Richie’s Sherlock Holmes and HP and the Half Blood Prince, have made a city which it is worth watching the film a couple of times to get the nuances and textures.

Essentially we see two cities, London and Meanwhile City, which are fluid and intertwined in the character’s minds (and perhaps McMorrow’s). The hard, alien London dovetails into the baroque, Dickensesque denizen city which reminds me a little of Proyas’ Dark City. Although Meanwhile is the imagination of Preest (David), it spills out into the less bizarre world of Milo and Emilia who are both dealing with loneliness on their own ways. Milo’s just been left standing at the altar and Emilia is still trying to get her head around the loss of her father through art projects centred on attempted suicides (which featured in Thespian X) and by chance come together as Milo’s imaginary friend, Sally, resembles Emilia. Even Peter’s story comes to a conclusion where the doubt and possible confusion is resolved.

This is a very European film, imperfections showing, which reminds me of China Miéville’s interest in cities.( I’d love to know if McMorrow has read his books.)  Arty and odd, it is a project driven by passion and, as such, is perhaps a little messy but rewarding.

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