Franklyn (2008)

A review by Shlomoh Sherman
June 1, 2016

Franklyn (2008)
Director: Gerald McMorrow
Writer: Gerald McMorrow
Stars: Eva Green, Ryan Phillippe, Sam Riley, Bernard Hill, Susannah York; See cast, first billed only, below
Director: Gerald McMorrow
Writer: Gerald McMorrow
Plot Synopsis: A portrait of the broken lives of four people (a vigilante detective, a worried parent, an awkward man looking for love, and a suicidal artist) as they all struggle to cope in their religiously-dystopian city. These four, bound by fate, romance and tragedy, collide in the parallel worlds of London and the futuristic Meanwhile City, where a single bullet will alter the course of their lives forever. Franklyn is the story of four lost people inhabiting parallel worlds.
Plot Keywords: restaurant - masked vigilante - detective - synchronicity - post traumatic stress disorder
Taglines: The path of single bullet decides the fate of four lost souls.
Genres: Drama - Fantasy - Sci-Fi - Thriller
Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)
Rated R for language
Country: France - UK
Language: English
Release Date: February 27, 2009 (UK)
Filming Locations: Lincoln's Inn Fields, Holborn, London, England, UK
Box Office:
Budget: $12,000,000 (estimated)
Company Credits:
Production Co: Recorded Picture Company (RPC), Aramid Entertainment Fund, Film4
Technical Specs:
Runtime: 1h 38 min
Sound Mix: Dolby Digital
Color: Color (Technicolor)
Franklyn (2008) on IMDb:


FRANKLYN is one of the most hauntingly beautiful films I have ever seen, and it is a very underrated one. I rented the video about a year after its release and I try to see it again at least once a year by inviting my friends to watch it with me. I am anxious for their comments when the viewing is over, and I have not heard a negative comment yet.

Franklyn may not be everyone's cup of tea. As Kosmasp writes in his own July, 2009 review, "This movie really is difficult. Not only to describe ..., but also to watch and follow the plot ... You have to stay focused to get it. Of course the main plot and the big details will be easy to grab. But again, only if you let yourself into the movie ... A complex, but rewarding viewing experience."

The story revolves around the lives of three men and one woman, each of whom appear to be be lost to life when we first encounter them. As the film moves through their four stories, we see them trapped in their seemingly difficult, if not impossible, situations, unable to cope with their lives and unable to resolve a solution for their losses. It is only towards the end of the film, when all four are drawn together [by fate?], that we get a glimmer of hope that each of them will find some resolution and closure to their sad existence.

The characters live out their lives in two parallel worlds; on the streets of modern day London and in the futuristic metropolis known as Meanwhile City.
Meanwhile City is dark, not only physically but psychologically as well. It is a city of shadows inhabited by people who have come there, having lived shadowed lives. The one redeeming feature of Meanwhile City is that, despite its sinister appearence, it offers redemption and hope to its inhabitants. It is a city of faith. All people are welcome in Meanwhile City provided that they profess a religion. The rulers of the city don't care what your religion is as long as you profess one. And if you enter Meanwhile City as a person lacking faith, you must quickly acquire one or find yourslef either imprisoned or forced to leave.


Peter Esser is an older man who has suffered the loss of a daughter who died in childhood, and the loss of a son who, after returning from military combat, is suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and has become a missing person for whom Esser spends his days and nights searching on the rough streets of London's homeless.

Emilia is an avant guarde artist, estranged from her family and from life itself, to the extent that she constantly attempts suicide. In counseling her, her physician, Pastor Bone, comments on her suicide attempts signifcantly, "I'm just saying that it isn't just about your family, your friends, the people you leave behind. It's about the people you haven't met yet." I say it's significant since towards the end, Emilia does discover the person whom she hasn't yet met who will have a profound influence on the remainder of her life.

Milo is a heartbroken young man who has recently been left at the altar, on his wedding day, by a bride with whom he was very much in love, but who nonetheless continues to look for love.

Preest is a masked vigilante, searching for a villain he calls THE INDIVIDUAL on the streets of Meanwhile City.

Religion is a constant undercurrent throughout the movie. It subtly drives the plot forward. While Preest is an atheist who feels antipathy towards faith, Esser is very much moved by it and seeks reassurance from his belief in God that he will ultimately find his missing son. Emilia's seeming lack of faith is somewhat balanced in the movie by Milo's continuing optimism and faith that he will ultimately once again find love even in the face of a severe emotional disappointment.

As you can guess, FRANKLYN is a moody film and it is beautifully directed by its writer, Gerald McMorrow, and superbly acted by its terrific cast. The portrayal of the characters must have been very demanding on the actors as they move through their quests in two separate worlds.

The sets, the cinematography, and the music combine to set a mood of ongoing anticipation and hope that all will end well, and that the audience will not be disappointed by the dramatic outcome.

By the way, no one in the film is actually named Franklyn. Franklyn is the name of a former tennant written on the bell of an apartment in which the denoument of the film takes place.

I cannot recommend this movie too highly. If you haven't seen it, try to rent it.

Kudos to Ryan Phillippe who plays Preest. Phillippe has long been one of my favorite actors and he continues to earn my admiration in each film in which I see him.

Kudos to Eva Green who plays Emilia. You will recognize Eva from her role as Vanessa Ives in the Penny Dreadful TV Series. She is a senuously beautiful woman who knows her craft well.

Kudos to Sam Riley as Milo. I don't believe I have ever seen him before this film. He brings the pathos of the jilted lover to life in a sympathetic way.

Kudos to Bernard Hill, a marvellous British actor who plays Peter Esser. He masterfully delivers in a role of a father who once had to grieve over the loss of a young daughter and now is grieving over his missing veteran son.

Kudos to Susannah York who plays Emilia's mother. When I was a young man, York was one of my favorite British actresses, and a truly beautiful woman. Time has not been kind to her. I did not even recognize her until I read the screen credits. She has not aged well but is still a dynamic actress.

The music playing in the backgroud is from the movie's sound track.

Read other reviews of this movie at

PS: There is a wonderful review of the film at

Did You Know?:

Initially, Ewan McGregor, Paul Bettany and John Hurt were set to star, but the film's schedule was thrown when McGregor broke his leg in a biking accident and was forced to drop out. Eva Green remained the only member of the original cast. Bernard Hill replaced John Hurt.
Preests statement - "If a god is willing to prevent evil, but not able, then he is not omnipotent. If he is able, but not willing, then he must be malevolent. If he is neither able or willing then why call him a god? Why else do bad things happen to good people?" - is almost directly lifted from Epicurus, who is credited with first expounding the problem of evil. David Hume in his Dialogues concerning Natural Religion (1779) cited Epicurus in stating the argument as a series of questions: "Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then is he impotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then is he malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Whence then is evil?"
Near the end, when Preest/David is in Emilia's London flat, he asks her what her faith/religion is, to which she replies that she is not religious. In real life, Eva Green is Jewish.

The man talking to Milo in the room where the red haired woman disappeared, another unseen character added some tiles to his original cross shaped design on the table. After Milo leaves, the camera tilts down as the man writes into his notebook and the additional tiles are gone, reverting back to the cross shape.
At around 55 mins into the film, when Emilia puts her cigarette out on a round white object, it clearly shows the cigarette falling off of the object onto the table. A few moments later, the next camera angle zooms in, revealing the cigarette sitting back on top of the white object.


Dr. Earlle: Building trust takes time. All structure must start with foundation, and communication is the cornerstone of foundation. Emilia: Amen.
Preest: When you're lost, you're willing to believe anything. In this city, every religion promised a future, whether in this world or the next. All you had to pay them with was your faith and trust and, despite the celebration, the reverence and the prayer, everybody ends up in the same human mess. Old. Sick. Unhappy. Dead.
Preest: Somebody once said that religion was deemed by the commoners as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful. The only thing I believe is that my name is Jonathan Preest. And tonight, I'm gonna kill a man.
Preest: If you believe in something strongly enough, who's to say if it's real or not?
Preest: Anywhere can feel like a prison, when you don't have any faith.
Emilia: Life's too much of an adventure as it is without making anything else up.
Milo: If I'm having an imaginary conversation, I'd at least hope for something a bit more fucking exciting.
Preest: There are now so many faiths registered in this town, it gets kind of hard to be original.
Preest: You see, without faith, it's difficult to be controlled.
Preest: If you needed to find someone, the best place to start was the Faith Registration Centre - Meanwhile's melting pot of the pious. Every creed, cult, religion and doctrine pass through these doors, all looking for the same sense of belonging and hope.
Preest: These days, you can form a congregation simply based on washing-machine instructions.
The Individual: G-d, maybe? It was G-d's will that Sarah was taken from us.
Preest: In this world my name is David.
Pastor Bone: I'm just saying that it isn't just about your family, your friends, the people you leave behind. It's about the people you haven't met yet. A person can stay inside themselves for too long and end up blind, like not recognising your own voice on tape.

"Third Face Written by Hein Hoven & Gerald McMorrow
Catacombs Bar Performed by Ben Wynne
Moonsurfing Performed by Malakai
Fading World Performed by Malakai
Omega Time Performed by Malakai
Meechs' Theme Performed by Malakai

Frequently Asked Questions:
Q: What is the music used in the trailer?
A: This is taken from the original score of Darren Aronofsky's 2006 film The Fountain. It is composed by Clint Mansell and the track is titled "Death is the Road to Awe". Also, in the new trailer that has just came out, a variation of "In The House, In A Heartbeat" by John Murphy (from 28 Days Later) is played.

Message Boards:
Recent Posts
Here's what really happened - guitarraelectrica
Just Dont Get It - InFaDeLiTy
Eva Green is so beautiful in this - jolacora
Same father? - aciescott
This movie is about faith, not religious but about life - Echo-99
Music when Amelia is panting her hand red - victoriaannewilson-63-39871

Discuss Franklyn (2008) on the IMDb message boards

Cast overview, first billed only:
Eva Green ... Emilia / Sally
Ryan Phillippe ... Preest / David Esser
Sam Riley ... Milo
Bernard Hill ... Peter Esser
James Faulkner ... Dr. Earlle / Pastor Bone
Stephen Walters ... Wormsnakes / Wasnik
Art Malik ... Tarrant
Susannah York ... Margaret
Richard Coyle ... Dan
Kika Markham ... Naomi
Helmut C Kirchmeier ... Street Preacher
Hilary Sesta ... Female Preacher
Matthew Flynn ... Cleric 1
Janetta Morrow ... Guilty Woman
Doug Allen ... Cleric 2

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