Franklyn (15)

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The Independent Culture

Franklyn is a triumph of ambition over ability. The debut film from writer-director Gerald McMorrow, it's a genre-hopping British mystery which has four strands, three of them set in London, the fourth set in a Gilliamesque parallel universe where religion is a legal requirement. These dizzyingly designed fantasy sequences feature Ryan Phillippe as a masked private eye who prowls a murky metropolis called Meanwhile City, where every building is a cathedral. Back in reality, Eva Green is a brattish student who keeps attempting suicide as part of a video project; Sam Riley is a recently jilted artist who spots his childhood sweetheart in the street; and Bernard Hill is a church caretaker who is searching for his missing son.

Unfortunately, the three Earthbound strands are so drab that the only reason to stick with them is to see how McMorrow is going to tie them in with Phillippe's fantasy world. But Franklyn is a con: two of the strands don't have anything to do with Meanwhile City. If you cut out Sam Riley and Eva Green's segments, you'd have a promising short film. As it is, we're expected to swallow two helpings of red herring.

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