Limehouse Golem, The (Blu-ray) (2016)
|Year Of Production||2016|
|RSDL / Flipper||No/No||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||Juan Carlos Medina|
Sony Pictures Home Entertain
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.40:1|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.35:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
London 1880; the Limehouse district has a serial killer on the loose who murders seeming unrelated people, a prostitute, an elderly Jew and a family who sell second hand clothes, in such gruesome ways he has been dubbed “The Limehouse Golem” by the press. Inspector John Kildare (Bill Nighy) of Scotland Yard is assigned to the case; Kildare has been the subject of whispers about his sexual orientation and been passed over for promotion and, as he sees it, he has been assigned to the case so he can be made a scapegoat when he fails. Kildare asks for Corporal George Flood (Daniel Mays) as his assistant because of Flood’s knowledge of the Limehouse area.
Kildare quickly becomes aware that there seem to be connections between the Golem case and that of music hall star Lizzie Cree (Olivia Cooke) who is currently on trial for having murdered her husband John Cree (Sam Reid). The name of John Cree appears in some of the evidence Kildare has discovered in the Golem case and the last murder by the Golem occurred the day before Lizzie’s arrest for murder. Kildare visits Lizzie in gaol and gradually learns her story, becoming determined to help her. Lizzie had been born to a prostitute mother and after her mother’s death had made herself useful in the music hall owned by Uncle (Eddie Marsan). There she earned the friendship of star comedian Dan Leno (Douglas Booth) (another name that crops up in Kildare’s investigations) and the jealousy and hostility of performer Aveline Ortega (Maria Valverde) because Lizzie became, in a short time, a popular star of the music hall. There Lizzie met John Cree, a journalist with a writer’s block and an unfinished play, and got married. Kildare is convinced that Cree is the Golem but as Lizzie is tried, found guilty and sentenced to be hanged, time is running out to prove it.
The Limehouse Golem is directed by American Juan Carlos Medina based on the 1994 novel Dan Leno and the Limehouse Golem by Peter Ackroyd. The screenplay is by Jane Goldman, who also wrote the screenplay of The Woman in Black (2012). It is a literate and clever script juxtaposing fictional characters with real people including Dan Leno (who was indeed a huge star of the music hall stage), Karl Marx and George Gissing who all become “persons of interest” in the investigation. Some of the dialogue is quite stagey, and not only the parts which take place on the stage, while the screenplay also jumbles the chronology and setting; the investigation, flashbacks to Lizzie’s climb from the gutter to the stage, the trial, the music hall and plays being staged to tie in with Lizzie’s fate are all mixed together; the first line of dialogue in the film, spoken by an actor on stage, is “Let us begin, my friends, at the end”. The unreliable narrator is also present on a couple of levels; we have Lizzie telling her own story, which may or may not be accurate, while the same murder is repeated in flashbacks with different suspects as they read the Golem diary which is Kildare putting his own understanding and reconstruction on the events.
No film set in the slums of Victorian London should be bright in its colour scheme and The Limehouse Golem is no different; the narrow streets, the small dark houses, the docks at night, the court, all have an effective dull claustrophobic feel, the clothing dark and sober. The exception is the music hall with its boisterous crowd, bright lights and costumes, generating a totally different, fantasy, world in contrast to the poverty of the streets. Bill Nighy, in a role that was destined for Alan Rickman before his untimely death, provides a suitable dignity and gravitas to the character of Kildare but this film is really about the character of Lizzie. Olivia Cooke was seen recently in Spielberg’s huge budget Ready Player One and in The Limehouse Golem she is good to watch although, for me, she looked too modern to be fully convincing in the role. In contrast Douglas Booth is fabulous as Dan Leno.
The Limehouse Golem is an interesting and clever film. It is quite gory and bloody in parts, justifying its MA rating, but those expecting a horror film or serial killer slasher will be disappointed. This is more a musical hall mystery melodrama, with twists and a race against time although when the identity and motivation of the Golem is finally revealed it is not quite as one might have expected.
The Limehouse Golem is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.40:1, in 1080p using the MPEG-4 AVC code.
As noted in the review, The Limehouse Golem has a very dark colour palate; the colours have been desaturated, the clothing sober, the narrow streets, the small rooms, the docks at night, the court all have a dull claustrophobic feel. The exception is the music hall with its boisterous crowd, bright lights and costumes. Detail throughout however is strong, blacks and shadow detail exceptional. The film also makes use of light filtering into dark rooms, shadows thrown by a light onto a dark London street or into the cell in which Lizzie is imprisoned, which create a haze around the actor. The skin tones are also affected by the colour desaturation. Marks and artefacts were absent.
No subtitles are provided.
The audio is English DTS-HA MA 5.1.
The Limehouse Golem is not an action film and indeed the audio is more reminiscent of a horror film. Dialogue is clean and the rears are used for whispers and a distorted voice as parts of the Golem diary are being read. Elsewhere the surrounds and rears are active with the noise of the streets and the docks, the rain and thunder, horses’ hooves, the laughs and roars of the audience and the music. The subwoofer added appropriate depth to the crowd noises, the thunder and the score.
The orchestral score by Johan Soderqvist (who scored the Swedish originals of Let the Right One In (2008) and The Bridge) is subtle and adds to the mood of the film. An original piece written by Dan Leno is also performed in the film.
There are no lip synchronisation issues.
|Surround Channel Use|
There are no extras of any kind. The silent menu offers only “Play Feature”.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
The Region B UK Blu-ray of The Limehouse Golem adds an 8 minute extra that is reported to be a “fluffy clip laden featurette”. I suppose that extra technically makes that version the better one, although it hardly seems worthwhile importing just for that. I cannot find any reviews of the US release, but I doubt it has anything more.
The Limehouse Golem is a clever film, a Gothic tale of murder that neatly mixes together historical people and fictional characters. Anyone expecting a horror film or serial killer slasher will be disappointed, but the script is intelligent, the mystery interesting, the era of Victorian London nicely rendered and the acting, especially from Bill Nighy and Douglas Booth, good. An enjoyable mystery mixed with social commentary about the role of women that will reward those prepared to go along with the film.
The video and the audio are fine for this type of film. Zilch extras.
|DVD||Sony BDP-S580, using HDMI output|
|Display||LG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.|
|Audio Decoder||NAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.|
|Speakers||Studio Acoustics 5.1|