Directed by newcomer Hunter Richards, London is a complex tale of a man scorned by a traumatic breakup. Jessica Biel plays the title character, a savvy sophisticated woman who was the love of Syd's (Chris Evans) life. Since she left him, he has become a complete wreck. He now spends his days drinking and snorting cocaine. Six months later, he finds out through a random phone call that London is moving to Los Angeles. The worst part is that her friend Becca (Isla Fisher) is throwing a going away party - one that he isn't invited to. Determined to get London back, Syd decides to crash the party along with his unsuspecting dealer Bateman (Jason Statham), a banker who sells drugs on the side. When they get there, they eventually wind up in the bathroom. They snort huge amounts of coke and talk about life and love as Syd attempts to get up his nerve and talk to London. Along the way we are introduced to a number of eccentric characters, such as feisty bartender Mallory (Joy Bryant) and high-school student Maya (Kelli Garner). Each one plays a part in Syd's tripped-out journey of self discovery.
Although it features a cast full of popular young stars, London is not an easy sell in the slightest.. Audiences aren't likely to respond due to its strange and offbeat plot. It reminds me a lot of 1999's Go in this regard, although it is considerably less mainstream. It is truly a character study of many different individuals, all of them reflecting on life as the events unfold before their eyes. It moves at a slow pace but is never boring thanks to excellent performances and stylish direction.
Chris Evans is on screen for almost every frame and delivers another excellent performance. He shows his dramatic chops here and exhibits an ability for both comedy and drama. His character is very complex and has many different layers, all of which are revealed throughout the course of the film. Jason Statham, well-known for his action roles, plays against type here as the straight laced businessman Bateman. He shows his talent in both comedy and drama, and also has great chemistry with Evans. Jessica Biel is radiant and fascinating as London, a woman longing for complete commitment in an otherwise stable relationship. She has strong chemistry with real-life boyfriend Evans and her character is believable and likable. Most of her scenes are flashback sequences, so it is interesting to watch her character progress.
The supporting cast is great for a film of this size. Joy Bryant is solid as Mallory and gets the most to do of the side characters. Kelli Garner makes an impression but isn't given a whole lot to do, maybe appearing for fifteen minutes total. Isla Fisher, who was hilarious in last year's Wedding Crashers, gives another strong comedic performance here as the naive and unsuspecting party host. The rest of the actors are fairly insignificant overall, with most being reduced to mere walk-on roles (such as comedian Dane Cook).
Richards writes and directs this project and shows great promise in his first outing. The direction is stylish and he finds many interesting takes to use - making the film easy to watch and helping it from dragging on. The screenplay is also solid. It seems like something originally written for the stage, but it works on film thanks to the way each scene is handled. While there are comedic elements, there are also several sweet and poignant scenes. The best scene in the film is the final confrontation between London and Syd in an airport. The Crystal Method provides the score for the film, a techno-fringed mixture of various beats that fits well with the tone of the film.
Overall, I can see why London isn't appreciated by critics and won't be embraced by audiences. It's a strange film that requires patience from the viewer due to its slow pace. But thanks to excellent performances and stylish direction, it turns out to be a completely fascinating and involving tale.