This ‘London’ melodrama certainly gives the auteur theory a concrete overcoat. As shots of Lewis Cubitt’s famed train shed in every other frame remind us, we’re in King’s Cross. At one point, as Jude Law’s trendy young architect, Will, sits in his Range Rover on the corner of York Way inadvertently abusing, over lattes, an East European prostitute’s amour propre, you start to think you’re in one of Stephen Frears’ compassionate urban social dramas. But, wait! Here’s Martin Freeman, as Will’s office colleague Sandy, making comical eyes at the drop-dead-gorgeous, Kafka-quoting cleaner of African extraction, Orit (Romi Aboulafia). Surely that ‘Notting Hill’ guy, Richard Curtis, has written this? Or is it Woody Allen who directs the shot of Will mooning with a beautiful Bosnian-Muslim refugee on the Millenium Bridge? No. This is Anthony Minghella’s first written-and-directed movie since his ghostly tear-fest ‘Truly, Madly, Deeply’. And, although it’s not bad exactly, it has none of the great qualities of ‘The English Patient’ nor ‘The Talented Mr Ripley’. Rather it’s a film of disorientating directorial mood swings, with all the disheartening self-consciousness of the ‘well-written’ script with nothing to say.
Positively speaking, the acting’s good – my favourite is Ray Winstone’s CID officer, an empathetic local Solomon in ‘Rock God’ casuals (a rarity in the Met) – and Benoît Delhomme’s cinematography is typically fine. But the film’s series of cross-cultural parallels and mirror-images are increasingly self-advertising and alienating. Will betrays his depressed Swedish partner Liv (Robin Wright Penn) with a fling with traumatised Amira (Juliette Binoche), whose beloved son has been burglarising his premises. As Liv has an autistic daughter whose outlet is gymnastics, so Amira has a conflicted son who can out-freejump yamakasi-king David Belle. And on it goes. Diffuse, disappointing, and strangely out of touch.