The Lime­house Golem

National Post (Latest Edition) - - POST MOVIES - Chris Knight

Where is Sherlock Holmes when you need him? Late Vic­to­rian Lon­don’s great­est de­tec­tive would have cracked the case of The Lime­house Golem wide open with his in­duc­tive rea­son­ing, prob­a­bly in half the time it takes In­spec­tor John Kil- dare (Bill Nighy) to scam­per through the city’s the­atri­cal un­der­belly in search of a Jack- the- Rip­per type. It’s also likely that Holmes would have re­lied on more foren­sic ev­i­dence than hand­writ­ing anal­y­sis, Kil­dare’s go- t o method of iden­ti­fi­ca­tion.

But Peter Ack­royd’s 1994 novel, adapted by Jane Gold­man (the Kings­man movies), cre­ates a suit­ably at­mo­spheric if Holmes-less set­ting. Cen­tral to the plot is Lizzie Cree ( Olivia Cooke, adroitly jug­gling a plethora of emo- tions), who is sus­pected of mur­der­ing her hus­band, John (Sam Reid), af­ter he is found dead from poi­son­ing.

Kil­dare is busy in­ves­ti­gat­ing the “Lime­house Golem” killings as they’ve been nick­named by the press. He’s been given this thank­less task be­cause he is, in the cir­cum­lo­cu­tory speech of the time, “not the mar­ry­ing kind.” When sus­pi­cion falls on the late Mr. Cree, Kil­dare won­ders whether Lizzie might be guilty of mur­der­ing a mur­derer. Two wrongs might not make a right, but they’d let the peo­ple of East Lon­don sleep more eas­ily.

Gold­man’s screen­play, brought to life by di­rec­tor Juan Car­los Me­d­ina, throws in some red her­rings but also a few real-life fig­ures. (Pretty sure Karl Marx isn’t the mur­derer un­less his­tory has com­pletely mis­judged him.) Lizzie has spent much of her life in the the­atre fend­ing off a va­ri­ety of un­savoury male col­leagues (shades of the We­in­stein scan­dal here) and jeal­ous fe­males while her men­tor, Dan Leno ( Dou­glas Booth), does his best to keep her safe.

The solid cast, in­clud­ing Ed­die Marsan as a the­atre im­pre­sario nick­named Un­cle, helps keep the story afloat. And while the film doesn’t shy away from the grisly na­ture of the mur­ders, the time pe­riod still al­lows for a touch of re­fine­ment. Kil­dare says they can com­pre­hend the mur­derer “if we can sink to his cir­cle of damna­tion.” And when was the last time a search for clues in­cluded the query: “Do you feel like a walk? To the li­brary?” ∂∂∂

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