London Road is a one-of-a-kind musical docudrama based on a spree of sex worker killings that rocked the small town of Ipswich, England in 2006. Playwright Alecky Blythe took interviews with Ipswich locals and transcribed them into song, with every ‘um’ and stutter making it into the lyrics. Director Rufus Norris helped make it a hit on the stage, and has done a great job with the screen adaptation.
The songs tend to belabour plot points, which are scant and basically boil down to there once was a serial killer in a small town, but it’s their unique presentation that keeps it interesting. The main thrust of the film doesn’t really become clear until its final minutes, but excellent performances, direction and cinematography save it from becoming dull, despite being intentionally repetitive.
London Road takes auto-tuning the news to the next level and creates something entirely original out of this modern day Jack the Ripper tale. Don’t be fooled by Tom Hardy’s top billing, as his role amounts to little more than a cameo, but it’s a good one. The cast also features Olivia Coleman (Peep Show) and several musical theatre actors who appeared in Tom Hooper’s Les Misérables, but this ain’t Les Mis.
This review was originally published as part of our TIFF 2015 coverage.