London Boulevard (18) ***
Directed by: William Monahan
Starring: Colin Farrell, Keira Knightley, Ray Winstone
The directorial debut of The Departed scribe William Monahan is an odd one: an adaptation of a Ken Bruen crime novel – inspired by Billy Wilder’s Sunset Boulevard – which plays on screen like an upmarket, Rilke-quoting version of every other film Danny Dyer has been involved with. Narrative thrust is supposed to be provided by the growing relationship between ex-con Mitchell (Farrell) and a reclusive, depressive actress – middle-aged and vampish in the book, Keira Knightley here – except there’s almost as many characters crammed into its 104 minutes as The Departed had in 150.
On they come, giving it their best Mockney: everyone from Anna Friel as Mitchell’s nympho sister to a twitchy Ben Chaplin as the old cohort whose involvement with mob boss Winstone makes our hero’s fresh start an impossibility. Against them, Farrell exudes focused, low-key cool in sharp suits, while Monahan locates a pallid, needy strangeness in Knightley that makes one regret the manner in which she comes to be crowded out. The faux-Scorsese soundtrack’s overdone, and matters get generic as Mitchell reverts to type, but it’s a mostly diverting, stylishly shot scramble: this year’s Lucky Number Slevin, if you will.