'London Boulevard' Shockya Movie Review, Written by: Karen Benardello
Director: William Monahan
Starring: Colin Farrell, Keira Knightley and Ray Winstone (‘The Departed,’ ‘Beowulf’)
The contrasting lifestyles of South London’s criminal underground and the West London celebrity world are two existences that don’t often cross paths in literature and on-screen. But author Ken Bruen interestingly combined the two lifestyles in his noir crime novel ‘London Boulevard,’ which was effortlessly translated to the screen by first-time director William Monahan. The filmmaker, who is most remembered for winning an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay in 2007 for the gangster film ‘The Departed,’ brought his knowledge of the conflicting methods of gangsters to the screen adaptation of ‘London Boulevard.’ He also modernized the story to chronicle the trapped feeling celebrities face during the height of their fame.
‘London Boulevard’ follows Mitchel (played by Colin Farrell), a newly released prisoner who just spent three years in Pentonville Prison for getting into a violent altercation. Mitchell is determined to turn his life around and distance himself from the gangster lifestyle that led to his incarceration. However, his old friend, low-level gangster Billy (portrayed by Ben Chaplin), meets Mitchel as he leaves the prison, offering him a place to stay in exchange for help on a job. Mitchel also catches the eye of ruthless mob boss Gant (played by Ray Winstone), who believes he will be an asset to his business. When Mitchel refuses Gant’s job offer, the mobster entangles him in a web of extortion and murder. Gant uses increasingly violent tactics to lure Mitchel, as he would rather see him dead than free.
While fighting off Gant’s persistent and vicious antics, Mitchel takes a job guarding famous actress and model Charlotte (portrayed by Keira Knightley) at her Holland Park mansion. Mitchel helps Charlotte’s house manager, Jordan (played by David Thewlis), fight off aggressive reporters and stalkers, as well as Billy’s attempts to steal from Charlotte. In the process, Mitchel and Charlotte come to love each other, as they both feel prisoned and can’t break from those determined to keep them in their present lifestyles.
Monahan brilliantly stays faithful to the tones and themes presented in Bruen’s novel, while modernizing the story to give it its own personality. For an independent movie, Monahan remained dedicated to researching and accurately preparing to showcase both the evil worlds of gangs and celebrity life. The gangster thriller stays true to the novel by accurately portraying the ruthless nature of British mob bosses in Gant. While he acts alluring to Mitchel when he first meets him, he quickly changes his attitude when Mitchel makes it known he’s determined to better his life and stay away from the gangster lifestyle.
Gant and Mitchel are the perfect opposites to each other, as Gant is more impulsive and will take whatever means necessary to get what he wants, no matter what the consequences. He quite enjoys getting in other people’s faces to intimidate them and get them to what what he wants. Mitchel, on the other hand, is more concerned with protecting his loved ones, including Charlotte and his sister, Briony (portrayed by Anna Friel), who’s addicted to alcohol and taking other people’s money. Mitchel is also more calculating than Gant, as he wants to outsmart the mob boss, instead of beating him in a physical fight.
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