Review: London Road


If you want to break your head, London Road wouldn’t be a bad way to start. Oddly, this is not inherently a statement about its quality, just its complication.

In 2006, the bodies of five women were found in Ipswich and soon after a man living on London Road was arrested. The other residents of the road, who had already struggled with prostitutes working their neighbourhood, faced a new reality of association with such a gory crime.

They were interviewed. Those interviews were then adapted by England’s National Theatre into not just a stage play, but a musical. The result is the actual words of the residents set, verbatim, to an appropriately dischordant and frenetic musical score. It’s a little reminiscent of Sweeney Todd in both musical style and content.

That musical has now been adapted into a film.

So this is a movie of a musical about the aftermath of multiple murders. It’s compelling, it’s certainly art and it’s clearly incredibly skilful, with a very impressive ensemble cast including Olivia Colman and Tom Hardy.

It’s just that it meanders far too deeply into the novelty freak show side of storytelling, which is hard to sustain for 91 minutes.

If you are locked in a room, such as a cinema, with this film you will without doubt be affected by it and walk out with much to discuss. But should you try to watch this at home or any other distraction-filled environment, the spell will be easily broken and the film reduced to a gormish freak show.

There should be no suggestion that this is art for art’s sake. Quite the reverse, as a myriad thespic tools are used to jazz up an otherwise weighty, complex issue.

Though one can’t help wondering if some things just weren’t meant to be movies.

‘London Road’ Movie Times

Other Unusual, But Interesting, Musicals Include: Sweeney Todd, Repo! The Genetic Opera, Sunshine on Leith