Feeling in a solitary cinema mood on Monday evening, I decided to see Franklyn. A stylish trailer followed by lukewarm reviews meant I was hesitant to suggest it to others, making it a perfect choice. I was also keen to scout out some other good screens in central London, since I generally dislike the crowded mid-size multiplexes. So it was that I discovered Screen 5 in Empire, Leicester Square. The smallest of their five auditoriums, it was quite unlike any other I have seen.
The room is wide and shallow with an average sized screen. The seating stretches spaciously across the width the room with a slight curve, at around 10-12 seats per row. But here’s the kicker: there are only four rows. That’s it. It’s kind of like the home theatre you might expect a millionaire to have built for himself. My only minor gripe is that while the seats recline comfortably, a little extra slope to the room would have offered a better view of the screen from the rear seats, should anyone be sitting directly in front.
As for the film itself, Franklyn is an interesting curiosity. Its chosen “urban fairytale” description is apt, with its stories being set in modern London and the sprawling steampunk metropolis of Meanwhile City, which features some stunning overdesigned architecture. The fantasy portion with a masked protagonist hunting down “The Individual” bears its closest resemblance to Dark City in both style and tone. Unfortunately since Proyas’ pre-Matrix masterpiece is criminally underwatched, it’s likely to be a worthless comparison for most. Ultimately Franklyn demands a lot of patience as it unfolds with questionable pacing but it has something to offer for those willing to invest the time. It also exudes that wonderful debut film vibe (think Donnie Darko) which can never truly be recaptured by a director later in their career.