Speaking of London on film, as I briefly did in my last post, on Monday night, the Cat and I wandered off to the Barbican cinema to see the film, I, Anna.
I have to confess that I don't generally keep abreast of current film releases (my film-viewing is mostly spent catching up with the decades of films that have come before us...). So this probably wouldn't have even been on my radar if not for going to see James Bond last week. It was the subject of one of the previews and it quickly grabbed my attention with this shot:
I gasped, thinking 'was that the Barbican?' Sure enough, the next shot showed the unmistakable tunnel that is Beech Street.
The preview unfolded, revealing the story line to be a noirish tale involving a murder, a detective and an elegant and mysterious woman. All, seemingly, set in and around the Barbican.
'Oh, my goodness', I thought. 'What a genius use of the Barbican's strangely sinister qualities. How come no-one has done this before?'
Naturally, I had to see it. And, naturally, I had to see it at the Barbican cinema.
Sitting in the darkened cinema the following week, I could feel myself eagerly anticipating the appearance of the Barbican as I sat through the opening scenes. I felt kind of like my teenage self, enticed into seeing a movie because it starred an actor I fancied, and waiting for the moment for them to appear on screen.
And the performance of the Barbican did not disappoint. It formed the perfect backdrop for the murder that is the catalyst for the rest of the film. Its desolate and eerie qualities are brought out and connected with the characters who collide there: three middle-aged, separated adults (the male murder victim, the female stranger last seen with him, the male detective). The loneliness and dissatisfaction of the woman and the deep exhaustion of the detective were highlighted by the cinematography which emphasised the coldness and oppressiveness of their surrounds - the un-ornamented, bleak, concrete Barbican complex, along with other parts of London, from the neighbouring 1950s Golden Lane Estate to Peter Jones in Chelsea.
I'm definitely glad I went to see the film and would certainly recommend it. Even the Cat, who only came as a favour to me, liked it. It was awfully bleak but utterly gripping, as the wonderfully alluring and dignified Gabriel Byrne and intriguingly reticent and sophisticated Charlotte Rampling drew you into their world. The Cat and I were still mulling and talking it over the next evening, after we'd had more of a chance to let it all sink in. I would like to see it again some time, not least because (I don't think it's spoiling it to say) there is a twist/revelation at the end, which makes me want to go back and look out for the clues along the way...
(All images in this post are screen shots from the I, Anna preview)