Sometimes on Rotten Tomatoes, a film has these wide gaps between audiences thinking it’s going to be awesome, and critics thinking it’s trash.
“London Fields” is the epitome of such a movie. As of this writing, it stands at critics’ opinion: 0 percent, versus people wanting to see it: 87 percent.
So here’s the deal: I predict the people are going to enjoy this one. Is it a good movie? Oh heck no, it’s complete trash. Is it fun? Pretty much, unless you’re a film critic who once dreamed of being a film director or a film school professor, then it’s hugely insulting to you, and you’ll cut your nose off to spite your face before you admit to being entertained by such nonsense. In fact, you’re likely immune to liking such blather if it doesn’t check quite a few boxes in terms of competence and taste. Which is good. Up to a point.
What’s Not to Like?
“London Fields” has got some funny stuff. Billy Bob Thornton doesn’t get to do much funny, but he’s a very funny man. He’s in there. Johnny Depp is capable of hilariousness, and he’s in there doing some slightly funny, scary stuff. Jim Sturgess is here, and I’m sorry—but he’s pretty funny. And gross. But mostly funny.
And Amber Heard is here, being a screen siren in a way that will render most heterosexual men completely twitterpated and haunt their dreams for a few days. And she’s also funny.
So what’s not to like? The shoddy adaptation of a fun, potent, culturally insightful novel? Check. The highly immoral story of a femme fatale who’ll stop at nothing? Check. A smarmy author (Jason Isaacs) who Airbnb’s out his London apartment so a terminally ill author (Billy Bob) can stay there and write his last novel, and then steals the dead author’s work? Check. These are all things not to like.
So is there anything morally redeeming about this lurid piece of fluff? Um, no. So why do people want to see it so much? I’ll let you know why I think 87 percent of moviegoers will want to see this thing, right at the end of this article.
But First, the Synopsis
So Billy Bob plays Hell’s Kitchen-situated, starving-artist writer Samson Young. He’s dying. He’s looking to bang out one last novel. He does the aforementioned Airbnb apartment swap with rich and famous author Martin Asprey (Jason Isaacs).
Nicola Six (Amber Heard) lives upstairs, visible to Young through cracks in the ceiling, in various states of undress. She apparently has the supernormal ability of precognition, and has seen her own death a-comin’.
She believes she’ll die at the hands of either 1) Keith (Jim Sturgess), a welfare lowlife and darts-champion wannabe (with a model playing his lowlife wife: Cara Delevingne), or 2) Guy (Theo James), an upscale handsome fellow with a bad marriage and a monstrous child.
Author Young wants to chronicle Nicola’s journey toward death, seeing as how she already knows the time, date, and murder weapon. What a choice opportunity. Not.
And so we get lots of Nicola Six seducing two men, in two gears: 1) virginal/innocent, and 2) slutty/dominatrix. But why is she doing all that?
She wants to die, that’s why. It’s probably more important to her that her premonitions come true than her dying. Lots of people committing suicide nowadays.
Billy Bob does mention, via voiceover, that “She’s setting up the oldest conflict in the world. Two men. One woman. Someone dies.”
Anyway, eventually Johnny Depp shows up cameo-matically as loan shark and darts (bar-with-pool-table darts) phenom Chick Purchase. And since everything Depp has done post-Jack Sparrow is a version of Jack Sparrow (his Tonto was a Comanche-Sparrow), this might be a pimp-Sparrow. Or a nightmarish Willy Wonka-Sparrow.
And so the high-class guy snivels and grovels; the low-class guy roars and rampages (in Guy Ritchie mode), throws darts with verve and excellence, displays yellow teeth, does hilarious victory dances. And the clairvoyant screen goddess vamps about.
It’s a Shame
The novel from which the movie was made is a formidable, wildly artistic, at times hilarious commentary on a society run by men of wealth, power, and influence, who haven’t ever really grown up and are wholesale ruled by lust. Which is basically what we’ve got today. What true art would do would be to hold up a mirror to all that, while offering some suggestions of redemption. What we’ve got here instead is something that’ll entertain the heck out of just such men.
You know, in the days of yore, all art was depictions of gods. Everything was gods. You’ve been to The Metropolitan Museum of Art; you’ve seen Greek gods, Mesopotamian gods, Roman gods, Norse gods, Chinese Buddhas and Taos, Indian Buddhas, Japanese deities, Tibetan flying immortals, the Russian iconography with the gold halos, and the da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Raphael Madonnas. You’ve seen the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Art should uplift, should it not? “London Fields” will absolutely not uplift anything. Which brings me to the reason I think the film will be well-attended: Amber Heard’s face.
Humans were created in the image of gods, so the saying goes. Amber Heard has a particularly goddess-like face; it syncs perfectly with the Golden Ratio, which is a mathematical form used by artists, musicians, and architects to arrive at the perfection of proportion found in nature, which is based on a spiral. The entire cosmos is spirals. Solar systems spiral through space, electrons spiral around the atomic nucleus, and so on.
According to one Dr. Julian De Silva, Amber Heard’s face has a 91.85 percent accuracy to the Golden Ratio, followed by Kim Kardashian (91.39 percent), Kate Moss (91.06 percent), and Emily Ratajkowski (90.8 percent). Runners up are Angelina Jolie and Kendall Jenner.
And there you have it. That’s the reason men will go see this movie and love it. We want to see gods and goddesses and be uplifted as in days of yore. Here’s a darn-near physical goddess. Except this film will result in the opposite of being uplifted—it’ll be a perversion of the godly and cause lust and covetousness. So it’ll be popular.
Let me hedge my bet: If “London Fields” doesn’t bang the box office, it’ll be quite popular on Netflix.
Director: Mathew Cullen
Starring: Amber Heard, Johnny Depp, Billy Bob Thornton, Jim Sturgess, Cara Delevingne, Jason Isaacs, Theo James
Running time: 1 hour, 58 minutes
Release Date: Oct. 26
Rated 2 stars out of 5