London Road

Strong sexual references.

UK 2015
Director: Rufus Norris
Featuring: Tom Hardy, Olivia Coleman, Kate Fleetwood.
Running time: 91 minutes
Original review: Jamie Neish, Cine Vue
Extracted & Compiled by: Gill Ireland

The words of real-life residents involuntarily entwined with the horrific Ipswich serial murders of 2006, are uttered verbatim in this innovative and powerful film. After a successful run as a National Theatre stage show, the unique musical drama has been adapted for the screen by British director Rufus Norris. The film blends elements of drama, musical and documentary to produce something wholly unique – a taut examination of the reactions and subsequent coping mechanisms of a select few whose everyday lives are enveloped by a thick cloud of darkness in the wake of police discoveries.

As events unfold, the community of the namesake location become subjected to a nightmarish media scrum that traps them behind closed doors. Reporters, vandals and police descend on their once peaceful, untouched street, turning it into a place of death and misery. The cast, which is made up of newcomers and old hands of the material from the stage, make each one of the affected people count. Their voices, lent an even more piercing note by Adam Cork's re-petitive and expressive musical compositions, eloquently communicate their thoughts, fears, suspicions and remorse at what's happened. It's perhaps not a technique or approach that should work, but somehow it does, and to terrific avail. No one actor is better here than the other, even a small cameo from Tom Hardy as a shady taxi driver has the power to unnerve. Olivia Colman, Kate Fleetwood, Anita Dobson and Paul Thornley too, are uniformly excellent taking on the roles of their respective real-life personas.

Norris, who has assumed the role as the artistic director of the National Theatre, is the ideal man for the task at hand. His experience as a stage director compliments the film; the move-ments and choreography accentuates the heightened emotional instability felt by the residents. He uses a palette of drab, washed-out colours that conveys the feeling of isolation, before let-ting in the light as coping mechanisms are put into action and spirits begin lift as the trial ver-dict is announced.

The film is a big undertaking that requires a leap of faith by those behind and in front of the camera but it doesn’t simply work, it trumps expectations and lingers long in the mind.