“London Fields” is perhaps the most bizarre cinematic disaster of 2018.
Martin Amis’ 1989 international bestseller begins: “This is the story of a murder. It hasn’t happened yet. But it will.”
Although novelist Amis receives co-writing credit along with Roberta Hanley, responsibility for the ugly, incoherent debacle rests with director Mathew Cullen, who obviously hasn’t a clue about how to adapt the mystery of a beautiful, young woman who foresees her own death and hires a writer to document it.
Set in 1999 in London, femme fatale Nicola Six (Amber Heard) is involved with three different men: Guy Clinch (Theo James), a wealthy banker; Keith Talent (Jim Sturgess), a petty criminal; and Samson Young (Billy Bob Thornton), an American author with writer’s block who serves as narrator, having swapped apartments with British author Mark Asprey (Jason Isaacs).
All three men are obsessed with Nicola and one of them will kill her, although the murderer’s identity is not revealed until the film’s climax.
Johnny Depp, Amber Heard’s husband-at-the-time – they are now divorced, appears in an uncredited cameo as Chick Purchase, a facially scarred gangland boss and darts-throwing champion.
Best known for his Katy Perry “California Girls” music video, Cullen is aware of the film’s negative reviews and agrees with them. So here’s what apparently happened.
Made in 2015, the $8 million production was plagued with legal disputes. Amber Heard launched a lawsuit claiming she was sexually exploited since a body double was improperly used in explicit scenes. Producer Christopher Hanley sued Cullen over money, prompting Cullen to claim his creative vision was hijacked.
Peter Hoffman, founder of Seven Arts Pictures, underwrote a $2.4 million recut of the film under the aegis of his new company, Blazepoint Unlimited – but he was subsequently convicted of movie credit tax fraud.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “London Fields” falls to a tortured 2. During its brief release, it reportedly earned only $169,000.
Cast: Amber Heard, Billy Bob Thornton, Theo James
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