Whodunit has its moments
The Limehouse Golem Warning: 18A Grade: B-Theatres, showtimes, pages 30-31
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, probably in half the time it takes Inspector John Kildare (Bill Nighy), to scamper through the city’s theatrical underbelly to find a Jack-the-Ripper type.
But Peter Ackroyd’s 1994 novel, adapted by Jane Goldman, creates a suitably atmospheric setting. Central to the plot is Lizzie Cree (Olivia Cooke), who is suspected of murdering her husband, John (Sam Reid).
Kildare is busy investigating the Limehouse Golem killings as they’ve been nicknamed by the press. When suspicion falls on the late Mr. Cree, Kildare wonders whether Lizzie might have murdered a murderer.
Goldman’s screenplay, brought to life by director Juan Carlos Medina, throws in some red herrings. Lizzie has spent much of her life in the theatre fending off unsavoury male colleagues (shades of the Weinstein scandal), 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. 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?”
Bill Nighy and Olivia Cooke star in The Limehouse Golem. While both offer pleasant diversion, Cooke, especially shines in her role.