London Fields is one of the worst movies I’ve seen this year, and I’ll get to sh*tting on it in a second, but first, an odd thing happened TIFF with this movie. I saw it at a press screening at the festival—Joanna and I were both completely floored by its unmitigated rancidness—but before it premiered for the public, it was pulled from the TIFF lineup because the director, Matthew Cullen, sued the producers, alleging fraud that basically amounts to the producers doing a final cut without Cullen, which he doesn’t like. It’s a little odd because the Directors Guild actually has arbitration rules meant to settle these kinds of disputes, so I’m not sure how far this goes in an actual court, but the suit was enough to get TIFF to pull London Fields from the lineup, mercifully sparing unsuspecting audiences from this garbage movie.
Amber Heard stars in London Fields, which I kind of get. She wants to be in Important Cinema, but it’s not like she’s getting the same phone calls as Rachel McAdams or Lupita Nyong’o or Felicity Jones or Keira Knightley or Natalie Portman or Scarlett Johansson or Jennifer Lawrence or Anne Hathaway—you get it. So she takes this project because it has the sheen of literary importance, being an adaptation of a Martin Amis novel, and Theo James is here because he’s not levelled up yet, so he can’t really be turning down work, and then somehow Billy Bob Thornton gets dragged into it, presumably because he ran over someone’s dog and this is how he’s making it up to them. Johnny Depp is also in it, because happy wife, happy life, and Jim Sturgess is one of the leads because let’s face it—that just never happened.
Heard plays the intolerably named Nicola Six—exactly the kind of name that looks cool on a page but grates intolerably when repeatedly said aloud in a film—a blonde bombshell who struts around in a parade of lingerie and white dresses, basically being a fembot fantasy who f*cks every guy she meets once and then moves on, leaving a trail of devastation in her wake. There are many unsubtle references to nuclear bombs and holocaust—these are the elements the director objects to—and we’re supposed to see Nicola as an epic femme fatale, the human equivalent of a nuclear blast. Sure. Caught up in her web are three men: Keith (Sturgess), a Cockney lowlife with a nearly indecipherable accent; Guy (James), a bored posh asshole; and Samson Young (Thornton), a failed writer dying of something or other and crashing in his more successful frenemy’s flat. Samson narrates the movie as he writes down Nicola’s doings to be his final book. So just like Playing It Cool, this is a movie narrated by a writer who talks about writing—which is just the worst—and it includes lines like, “All I needed was a character, and Guy was certainly a character.” *fart noise*
The world is on the cusp of some kind of global crisis, but though there are mentions of escalating tensions and constant intercutting of footage of nuclear bombs being detonated and asteroids crashing into Earth, none of that actually matters to the story. Amidst that totally irrelevant background, Nicola has foreseen her own murder at the hands of either Guy or Keith, and Samson is along to watch it all unravel and hopefully get a book out of it. Everyone is an asshole and the movie is unrelentingly obnoxious and Amber Heard is gorgeous but also not a good actor. When she shares the screen with Depp he obliterates her presence and he’s not even trying, just doing a pimp version of Jack Sparrow. I give the marriage eighteen more months, tops.
Keith is in a darts tournament with Chick (Depp), a loan shark/gangster/possible pimp with a scarred face. In this world darts is a huge sport I guess, because the darts tourney is a very big deal. I have seen darts televised on like, ESPN 19 at 3 AM, so the world of London Fields must entirely be peopled by those who stay up to watch darts on TV. The darts thing is the one interesting part of the movie simply because it’s so random—everything else is utterly predictable. That’s somewhat because Nicola tells us the ending right at the beginning and then the movie never deviates from that, but it’s also because this is just a pile of stock characters in stock situations. Blonde bombshell divides friends, failed writer provides hacky narration, crime unfolds exactly like you think it will. This is a terrible f*cking movie and I don’t know how it got accepted to TIFF unless someone was doing Depp a favor. I have a feeling this movie only exists because of people doing Depp favors.