London Fields (R)

Comedy 118 min. October 26, 2018
By Alan Scherstuhl
Mathew Cullen’s calamitous film adaptation of Martin Amis’ London Fields plays like the hazy recollection of someone who hated the book, an incomprehensible jumble of misogynistic claptrap. It dashes joylessly through dense material, too quickly for individual moments to register, much less resonate. The nadir, perhaps, finds Johnny Depp, as a gangster wearing one of the funny hats that producers use to lure Depp to film roles, asking a man he’s torturing, “Is your cock named Jesus?” Or perhaps it’s one of the many moments where Billy Bob Thornton, playing a novelist who is writing London Fields, hangs back and studies Amber Heard’s Nicola Six. She parades herself for the delectation of spiritless clods played by Jim Sturgess (as dart-throwing pub thug Keith Talent) and Theo James (as a bored millionaire), her character altering herself to become the woman of each of their dreams.

“She’s setting up the oldest conflict in the world,” Thornton intones in voiceover: “Two men. One woman. Someone dies.” Stripping Amis’ sprawling, brawling novel down to its chintzy murder-story through line robs the work of the book’s singular qualities: its rapturous prose, its paranoid philosophizing, its wild hilarity, its extravagant parody of a society ruled by blinkered, infantile, lust-crazed men. The world has lately lost its shit in particularly Amis-ian ways, and novels like London Fields and Money have much to reveal about the fevered minds and rotten heats of men with wealth and power. This London Fields, though, seems an entertainment for those men rather than one about them.
Mathew Cullen Amber Heard, Jim Sturgess, Theo James, Billy Bob Thornton, Jaimie Alexander, Cara Delevingne, Gemma Chan, Jason Isaacs, Lily Cole Roberta Hanley, Martin Amis Jordan Gertner, Chris Hanley, Geyer Kosinski GVN Releasing

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