Crime and Noire

Sep 142017

The Limehouse Golem (15) – OUT NOW

Dir: Juan Carlos Medina

Starring: Bill Nighy, Olivia Cooke, Douglas Booth

Run time: 109 mins approx.

In cinema and television history there have been countless interpretations of the Jack the Ripper killings but now The Limehouse Golem has put another Victorian serial killer, albeit a fictional one, in the spotlight. This makes for a refreshing change and allows the story to entertainingly subvert expectation, especially as the film peers through the murk of 19th century London with a somewhat feminist-tinted monocle.
The film, adapted by British screenwriting jewel Jane Goldman (Stardust, X-Men: First Class, Kingsman) from Peter Ackroyd’s novel, finds stoic detective John Kildare (Bill Nighy) on the trail of the eponymous murderer and met with a ludicrous suspect list comprising Karl Marx, George Gissing and cross-dressing music hall legend Dan Leno. It’s the latter, played with winning charisma by Douglas Booth, who proves most intriguing as through him we delve into the life of underdog street urchin-turned-stage star-turned abused wife, Lizzie ( Olivia Cooke, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl).
Lizzie is everything we don’t see in the Ripper stories (a female character with more than a corpse/prostitute role, for one) and Goldman has done a fantastic job in writing a woman who subverts the victim stereotype and whose intense determination and grit sees her succeed in a world where women were barely allowed to tread. The story begins with her apparently murdering her husband, John Cree, and immediately being carted off to prison. Here, she becomes Kildare’s focus as he gradually comes to the conclusion that this Mariticide was one of self-defence when Lizzie discovered Cree’s second life as The Limehouse Golem. From here we enter a fraught but slightly predictable final act in which the tension mounts as Kildare seeks evidence to support his case and Lizzie edges ever closer to the hangman’s noose.
This is only director Juan Carlos Medina’s second feature film and it does show a little in the slightly heavy-handed over-grimification of 1800’s London. However, with an enjoyable story, an impressively fresh unsmiling performance from Nighy and promising turns and displays of comedy chops from Cooke, Booth and Daniel Mays (Ashes to Ashes, Line of Duty) as an officer assisting Kildare, this is a heartily recommended watch and unmissable for fans of Victoriana and the murder mystery genre.

Review by Genevieve Taylor

Jun 222013
Doug Johnstone Q&A: Summer 2013

Doug Johnstone’s latest novel, Gone Again, is an Edinburgh-set thriller that has made quite the impact with critics and sales alike. Doug took time out from his hectic schedule to answer Geekzine editor Andy Jamieson’s pesky questions.    Andy Jamieson: What was the inspiration for Gone Again? And was the plot for Gone Again something that […]

Apr 022013
Gone Again by Doug Johnstone

Doug ‘Troubadour’ Johnstone is an author on the rise. You may know his name from his novels Hit & Run, Smokeheads, The Ossians, or even his debut Tombstoning. Or perhaps from his journalistic work for the Big Issue or The List. Gone Again is his latest hit novel, published by Faber & Faber in trade […]

Nov 142012
Is 'Elementary' actually a Sherlock Holmes sequel?

When CBS announced its plan to produce a modern-day adaptation of Sherlock Holmes, the casting of Lucy Liu as a female Watson and the shift to a New York setting weren’t (despite the deluge of online negativity) particularly big problems for me.  As details about the upcoming series emerged, the question uppermost in my mind […]

Sep 122011
Katja From The Punk Band by Simon Logan

  Katja From The Punk Band by Simon Logan (published by ChiZine Publications, 2010, TPB, £varies, out now) Playing like a Cold War thriller with piercings, Katja From The Punk Band is author Simon Logan’s second novel, following on from Pretty Little Things To Fill Up The Void. My first inclination was to think of […]