THE PLOT THUS FAR
36 hours in the lives of a number of gay men in Clapham, South London.
WHAT WE THOUGHT
This thought-provoking film, inspired by true events, takes place over 36 hours in the Clapham Common area of London, where the residents band together after a young gay man falls victim in the latest of a series of brutal assaults on homosexuals. In the midst of the crisis, the lives of five strangers become intertwined, and they are forced to question society’s acceptance of them, even 40 years after the decriminalization of homosexuality. The film itself takes as its basis the real-life murder of Jody Dobrowski on Clapham Common in 2005 but the impact is weakened by the episodic structure.
“Clapham Junction” attempts to bite off so much more than it can possibly chew in just under two hours. Elyot goes for an epic structure in an intimate setting. At times it looks like he’s trying to cram in forty years of gay sexual history into a night and day and it just doesn’t work. I wish I could have liked it more because there is so much here to admire and spread over, maybe six weekly episodes, he might have got away with it but as it stands it just doesn’t ring true. This may well be down to Elyot’s reliance on coincidence.
On the plus side, it’s universally well performed and often well directed. London feels magical, but it’s hardly authentic. The biggest problem is characterisation – or that lack of it. Characters are reduced to ciphers – they are stand-ins for a series of situations and issues. I don’t need to love characters and indeed, there’s absolutely no one to love here, but I do want to engage in their lives and concerns. I want to get under their skin, to understand them more by the end than when I started watching two hours previously.
The DVD comes with no special features. But, the A/V Quality is strong enough for a British flick. You get the usual video hazing that comes with this low-budget Brit films. But, what I want to focus on is the lackluster Dolby track. It’s been awhile since I’ve heard a mix in 5.1 that might as well have been considered 2.0 surround. There is no back channel action, as all of the dialogue is forced into the center channel. If the DVD would’ve been labeled clearly as a Dolby 2.0 track, this wouldn’t be a problem. If you can get past the notion of true cinematic audio, it’s worth a rental.
RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW!