‘London Fields’ Directors’ Cut (2018)

❉ Mathew Cullen’s new film, the much discussed ‘London Fields’ has an eye-blazing sense of visual craft, and the film’s noir-esque plot is interesting and unique, writes Nick Clement.

“Toydrum’s musical score is brazen and fully alive at all times, and the sometimes surreal juxtapositions of archival footage mixed in with glossy cinematic artifice keeps the viewer disoriented and wondering what might happen next. “

Up until a few weeks ago, I had no idea about Mathew Cullen’s new film, the much discussed, often maligned, and barely-given-a-chance London Fields. I had no clue about the behind the scenes issues (Cullen battled the producers over his final vision with a compromised cut recently getting released in theaters on a semi-wide platform), and regardless of those various problems that the creative parties had with each other while making and finishing the project, I don’t care about any of that stuff – I care about the movie in question. So when the opportunity presented itself to view Cullen’s personal director’s cut, I jumped at the chance. Cullen, founder of the visual effects company Mirada, has a background in commercials and music videos, and got his chance to play with a massive piece of storytelling for his feature debut, and I’ll be curious to see what he does next, especially if he gets the chance to make a film and not become entangled in production nightmares.

So while I can’t compare the director’s cut to the producer’s cut (or the novel which the film is based on), what I can state is that I very much enjoyed watching Cullen’s preferred vision of London Fields. It’s got a stunning sense of visual craft, with textural compositions that are strikingly bold and frequently eye-blazing, and the film’s noir-esque plot of a distressed writer (Billy Bob Thornton) trying to make sense of his reality and the story he’s in the midst of writing always remained interesting and unique. It also helps when ultra-eye candy actress Amber Heard is the femme fatale (in more ways than one); ever since Pineapple Express she’s remained a most alluring screen presence, and it’s clear that Cullen knew what he had on the other end of his viewfinder when he was setting up his mise-en-scene. Throw in a totally bonkers if slightly grating performance by Jim Sturgess and familiar faces like Jason Isaacs, Theo James, Jamie Alexander, Cara Delevinge, and an uncredited (and sorta hilarious) Johnny Depp, and you’ve got a starry cast that really brought the juice.

Given that original novelist Martin Amis co-adapted his own book (with Roberta Hanley), I can’t imagine that he’d work to sabotage a filmic version of something he initially created, so I’d have to assume that the busy plot of the film follows the exploits of the book to a certain authentic degree. The dialogue is over the top and purposefully rosy, with the actors clearly having fun delivering their lines. Toydrum’s musical score is brazen and fully alive at all times, and the sometimes surreal juxtapositions of archival footage mixed in with glossy cinematic artifice keeps the viewer disoriented and wondering what might happen next. Cinematographer Guillermo Navarro (Desperado, Jackie Brown, Pan’s Labyrinth) really earned his paycheck on this movie – every shot is luscious. The film’s credits list a staggering number of producers and production companies who were involved in getting this project to the big-screen. For some, London Fields will exist as a cheap and easy punching bag, but for others who can separate business from art, and if you can see Cullen’s director’s cut, many will find a very entertaining and conceptually wild movie that’s just waiting to be discovered and embraced by a cult audience.


❉ Nick Clement is a freelance writer, having contributed to Variety Magazine, Hollywood- Elsewhere, Awards Daily, Back to the Movies, and Taste of Cinema. He’s currently writing a book about the works of filmmaker Tony Scott.

❉ He is also a regular contributor for MovieViral.com, a site dedicated to providing the best news and analysis on viral marketing and ARG campaigns for films and other forms of entertainment.

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