El­e­men­tary, my dear!

Both grisly and re­fined, mys­tery movie Lime­house Golem is not with­out plea­sures

Regina Leader-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 Insp. John Kil­dare (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-to method of iden­ti­fi­ca­tion.

But Peter Ack­royd’s 1994 novel, adapted by Jane Gold­man (the Kings­man movies), cre­ates a suit­ably at­mo­spheric if Holmes­less set­ting. Cen­tral to the plot is Lizzie Cree (Olivia Cooke, adroitly jug­gling a plethora of emo­tions), 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, and Daniel Mays as Kil­dare’s trusted lieu­tenant, 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?” ck­night@post­media.com twit­ter.com/chrisknight­film


Bill Nighy stars in this Vic­to­rian-era crime mys­tery.

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