Almost Super: Franklyn
Almost Super: Franklyn 2008
This post is a part of my Patreon rewards program. Each month, Patreon members can vote on one of the movies that I review each month. If you would like to participate join today for just $1 a month. I don’t remember where I first heard about this film, but it had vigilante in the description and a guy in a mask on the cover. After watching it, while the movie does have a hint of vigilantism and evokes similarities to Watchmen, but it’s a far cry from a superhero movie. It does share some similarities to other movies that I’ve covered on this site where there is a superhero but it’s partly a hallucination of the main character. This involves four different characters and two of them have hallucinations, but only one of them involves anything close to a superhero. It’s still an interesting film in its own right, but much of the interest is left open to interpretation.
Starting off with the semi-superhero portion of this movie, Ryan Phillipe plays Jonathan Preest, a masked detective-ish character in this steampunk-esque dystopian landscape called Meanwhile City. The city is dark, has tall buildings, plenty of steam/fog, and plenty of stylized Victorian costumes. It’s a city where everything can be a religion, like the machine wash instructions on clothes, or the seven day manicurist religion. It appears to be some societal commentary, but it’s glossed over so quickly that nothing is really gained from it outside of a passing interest. There are some parallels between the real world and Meanwhile City as the movie goes along, we get to see different characters in both the fictional world of Preest as well as the real world as Preest’s father tries to find him. He also gets a voice over that’s highly reminiscent of Rorschach from Watchmen and his nihilistic view of the world around him.
The other hallucinatory character is Milo played by Sam Riley. He was recently left at the altar and regressed back to obsessing over his childhood sweetheart. The only problem is that he had forgotten that she was imaginary. Not only that, but she coalesces into his reality once again combined with another character played by Eva Green who had been recording him for an art project. It’s harder to get a feel for his character although the payoff is a little bit better than the one for Preest. We see him pining for his childhood with memories that lead up to a chance meeting with her at his old school. It’s not until he talks to his mother about the girl that she reminds him that it was all just a coping mechanism. She has a relatively small role occupying only a couple brief scenes, but it’s really the only depth we get to Milo’s otherwise sulking character.
The most interesting character is Eva Green’s Emilia, she’s a troubled artist who is working on a couple different video projects and has a contentious relationship with her mother. In some ways, we get the most arc out of her character while still not getting a lot of background information. There is some question about the relationship between her and her father, and she throws around suicide like it’s an afternoon jog. It’s apparently all for dramatic flair as she calls 911 before she even takes the first pill and records everything for her video project. Her scenes are some of the most visually interesting outside of Meanwhile City with her costumes, make up, and purposefully disheveled hair.
The visual style of this film is really the most important aspect. Meanwhile city itself is a dark cityscape filled with interesting costumes and makeup and Emilia herself is something else entirely. It’s shifted between those extremes and the more mundane real world populated by Milo and Peter Esser. Esser is bouncing inbetween all the characters tangentially related to the other three in his quest to find his missing son, who ultimately turns out to be Preest. Not only that, but Preest wants to kill his father. For some reason. The way everything is connected is somewhat interesting especially the connection between some of the characters and how they are portrayed in Preest’s imaginary Meanwhile City versus how they are in the real world. But ultimately it all boils down to nothing of much importance and it all just feels like total random happenstance rather than some predestined fate that brings all of these characters together in the end. It’s a pretty film that has some interesting moments, it just doesn’t hold up to much scrutiny unless you’re willing to fill in the blanks with your own more interesting stories. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.