Director: Rufus Norris (2015)
Based on the Suffolk Strangler killings, this bleak and complex musical drama is an admiral adaption of the National Theatre production of the same name.
In late 2006 Steve Wright murdered five Ipswich prostitutes and the film explores the peculiarly and resolutely British response to the crimes.
All the words spoken and sung are taken from recordings of contemporary interviews, with the locals expressing a confusion of thoughts and fears.
Following an arrest the police cordon off part of their street and a house is boarded up. Helicopters, paparazzi and news-teams invade the quiet close.
The residents struggle with the massive intrusion and the way their area is portrayed in the national media. Some people sell up and leave.
There’s sympathy – not particularly in the words – for the working girls who have been killed and for those remaining on the streets.
The greatest condemnation is reserved for the rubberneckers outside court waiting the suspect to arrive.
In the mire of despair a sense of community takes root. Watered with copious cups of tea it flowers into a gardening contest.
Olivia Colman leads the excellent cast and is supported by Kate Fleetwood, Clare Burt and Paul Thornley.
As a taxi driver called Mark actor Tom Hardy is behind the wheel of a car for the third film in a row – following Locke (2014) and Mad Max: Fury Road (2015).
As the biggest name in the cast he is all over the promotional material and is excellent in his very brief role.
Clear directorial vision uses fine performances, stilted choreography and muted colours to create an unsettling, paranoid tone which fills the dramatic gap created by the lack of input from either the victims or the villain.
The tunes are repetitive and insistent. As the worried, angry voices rise in a percussive chorus, the use of short focus wide lens and leering close-ups make for a disturbingly intense experience.
That’s fine, it’s a horrible subject deserving an appropriate, intelligent treatment. But the consistently downbeat atmosphere is wearing and makes for a demanding watch.
Although the finale is painted in primary colours, the tone is far closer to a requiem or a wake than a celebration.