Directed by Rufus Norris
London Road is a musical drama that documents the events of 2006, when the quiet rural town of Ipswich was shattered by the discovery of the bodies of five women. The residents of London Road had struggled for years with frequent soliciting and kerb-crawling on their street. When a local resident was charged and then convicted of the murders, the community grappled with what it meant to be at the epicentre of this tragedy.
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★★★★ review by Mike D'Angelo on Letterboxd
A.V. Club review. Dazzling enough frequently enough that I can forgive its fundamental hollowness. FYC, Best Scene: "It Could Be Him," "Cellular Material."
★★★★ review by Chris Hormann on Letterboxd
It seems like a strange conceit - taking the interviews of real life folk during the infamous serial killing of prostitutes in Ipswich in 2006 and turning it into a musical. Those interviews come from the neighbours of the man eventually convicted, Steven Wright and not a word is changed including the 'ums and ahs'. Somehow it seems to work - it is based on an acclaimed production at the National Theatre so the production team will have known it had potential as a film. And it isn't entirely without precedent from the classic 'sung-dialogue' musical, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg to Clio Barnard's The Arbor which used actual voices of housing estate residents but had them lip-synched by actors.
It helps in casting Olivia Colman in one of the prominent roles, a magnetic screen presence anyway but surrounded by familiar British actors (and a cameo from Tom Hardy) the production brings the story to life - there are some great musical sequences which make the sometimes stilted interview dialogue soar. The film doesn't forget the victims in all this, not just those killed by Wright but by the prostitutes who continued to work the trade and were demonised by the locals. There is one particularly chilling interview with Colman's character which brings the views of the locals into sharp relief.
If it fails slightly is that it never lets you forget this was once a stage production and while crane shots are used regularly to add to the cinematic feel, the interior scenes always being you back down to earth.
A worthwhile experiment nonetheless and one which shines a light not just on a terrible tragedy for a community but also highlights the plight of the forgotten and marginalised parts of the community.
★★★½ review by Ezra Cubero on Letterboxd
Fun, light-hearted, well acted, and well directed, London Road is an entertaining musical with a dark twist. #TIFF40
★★★½ review by Erik Bajzert on Letterboxd
ERIK REMINISCES ON TIFF PART 3
It's pretty good and
It's pretty great and
The naturalistic singing and verbatim music really
Bring it to life beautifully.
And it's uhh
And the music's pretty catchy and the story's heart wrenching
★★★★ review by JimmyDean on Letterboxd
I was born and raised in Ipswich. I remember the Steve Wright case vividly. So when I saw the trailer for a musical adaptation of the story, I was skeptical to say the least. Although the film doesn't depict the killer or his victims, the idea just shouldn't work.
Yet, somehow it does. I can't really explain why, but the film really captures the sense of spirit in a part of Ipswich, and also so many of the characters and their speech patterns are so spot on. This is undoubtably down to the musical's choice to use real life interviews as the basis of the lyrics and dialogue. The characters feel like real people from the area, and I think that is key to my enjoyment of the films and its success.
The songs are incredibly clever, and it uses the real-life interviews in such an interesting way. I'm kind of lost for words as to how to explain it, but yeah, it just works.
P.S - on a side note, it's so weird seeing places on a film that aren't their real life location. The Ipswich town centre in the film just isn't like the one in the town, and that actually weirded me out. I wonder if people from Manchester or London get this all the time?
PPS - Great to have Broken's Eloise Laurence back on screen.
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