London Unplugged

2 out of 5 stars
London Unplugged

Time Out says

2 out of 5 stars

The true spirit of the Big Smoke proves elusive in this unconvincing series of mini-movies set in London.

Modern London looks crap on film: I don’t know why. Maybe it’s all the glassy new-builds among the hackneyed tourist hotspots that give it an unconvincing quality. Maybe modern London is just a bit unconvincing full stop. It’s a big problem in ‘London Unplugged’, though. In this portmanteau of 11 short films, the creeping aesthetic homogeneity of our city has never been more apparent, and it fatally undermines its premise that the capital is vibrantly diverse and alive with compelling stories.

The films tick a few predictable boxes – immigration, identity, loneliness, sexuality – but in such a perfunctory way as to make the subjects feel as sterile as the setting. I feel like a total C-word for saying this, but basically, none of the films is very good. Probably the best is ‘Shopping’, where a man drifts into a Soho sex shop to buy a riding crop and ends up having a conversational epiphany with a genuinely creepy-or-is-he Bruce Payne. At least it has some atmosphere to it. Also nearly good is ‘Unchosen’, in which a barmaid asylum seeker is helped by a tetchy customer. But then… Then there’s stuff like ‘Feline’, which finds a criminally underused Juliet Stevenson making a gruesome discovery (hint: it’s not the two suspicious black guys with scary dogs who clawed the old lady to death). Or the bizarrely random adaptation of Virginia Woolf short story ‘Kew Gardens’. Or the film about a toddler going for a day trip without her mum noticing. Or the one where there are towering warehouses in Earl’s Court, or the one where a dreadlocked rasta geezer is playing an aria from ‘Carmen’ on a steelpan.

These are not the first filmmakers to struggle to put twenty-first-century London on film. It’s hard, and probably why a lot of modern Brit movies are set in semi-rural poverty with a load of pylons and clapped-out Ford Fiestas in fields. It just rings more true. 


Release details

Release date:
Friday January 18 2019
86 mins

Cast and crew

Jérémy Azoulay
Dimitra Barla
Stephen Cavanagh
Juliet Stevenson
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