MARVELLOUSLY MACABRE

A wickedly en­ter­tain­ing chase for a se­rial killer through the streets of Vic­to­rian Lon­don comes our way this week, in the dark de­tec­tive thriller The Lime­house Golem. By Da­mon Smith

Kentish Gazette Canterbury & District - What's On - - FRONT PAGE -

Dur­ing an omi­nous lull in Juan Car­los Me­d­ina’s macabre mur­der mys­tery set on the fog-choked streets of Vic­to­rian Lon­don al­most a decade be­fore Jack The Rip­per ran amok, a stage ac­tor draws par­al­lels be­tween his craft and hu­man nature.

“We all wear pan­tomime masks, do we not?” he posits. Those words res­onate with a chill through­out The Lime­house Golem, a stylish bat­tle of wits be­tween Scot­land Yard and a di­a­bol­i­cal se­rial killer, which was orig­i­nally an­nounced with Alan Rick­man lead­ing the fine en­sem­ble cast, be­fore his un­timely death.

In his stead, Bill Nighy brings solem­nity and grav­i­tas to the com­plex role of a right­eous po­lice of­fi­cer, whose ca­reer has been dogged by ru­mours that “he’s not the mar­ry­ing kind”. It’s a mea­sured and mov­ing per­for­mance, de­void of the dead­pan comic shtick that has el­e­vated Nighy in the na­tion’s af­fec­tions, and he beau­ti­fully con­veys his pro­tag­o­nist’s in­ner tur­moil, fully aware that he is be­ing set up as a scape­goat if the killer re­mains at large.

Jane Gold­man’s script, adapted from Peter Ack­royd’s novel Dan Leno And The Lime­house Golem, uses cin­e­matic trick­ery to keep us guess­ing about the mur­derer’s iden­tity un­til a big re­veal when one per­son’s pan­tomime mask falls with a de­li­cious and sat­is­fy­ing thud. A se­ries of slay­ings in the back al­leys of 1880s east Lon­don, at­trib­uted to an elu­sive fig­ure nick­named The Golem, baf­fles Scot­land Yard. In­spec­tor John Kil­dare (Nighy) is hur­riedly pro­moted to lead in­ves­ti­ga­tor, pri­mar­ily to take the fall when po­lice fail to ap­pre­hend a sus­pect.

“The pub­lic wants blood, The Golem pro­vides it,” rue­fully notes Kil­dare to Con­sta­ble Ge­orge Flood (Daniel Mays), his sole ally, who is in­trigued by scur­rilous whis­pers about his su­pe­rior’s sex­u­al­ity.

As the case gath­ers pace, ev­i­dence fo­cuses at­ten­tion on four prime sus­pects: jour­nal­ist John Cree (Sam Reid), mu­sic hall per­former Dan Leno (Dou­glas Booth), nov­el­ist Ge­orge Giss­ing (Mor­gan Watkins) and philoso­pher Karl Marx (Henry Good­man).

Kil­dare’s gut in­stinct points to Cree.

He was re­cently mur­dered by his wife El­iz­a­beth (Olivia Cooke) and the in­spec­tor sur­mises she glimpsed her hus­band’s dark side and poi­soned John to end his reign of ter­ror. Tes­ti­mony from the Crees’ spite­ful maid Ave­line (Maria Valverde) con­demns El­iz­a­beth to the gal­lows and Kil­dare races against time to prove his theory be­fore the noose tight­ens around the wife’s neck.

The Lime­house Golem sus­tains the el­e­ment of sur­prise and doesn’t stint on blood and gore. Nighy plays a bril­liant yet emo­tion­ally guarded man, who hopes the tricky case will re­veal a path to per­sonal re­demp­tion. Cooke is lu­mi­nous and Mays and Booth de­liver tex­tured sup­port­ing per­for­mances. Pe­riod de­tail is lov­ingly shrouded in shad­ows and fog to pro­vide the killer with the per­fect cover to com­mit their un­speak­able acts of bar­bar­ity. Some­thing wickedly en­ter­tain­ing this way comes.

The Lime­house Golem (15) is out on Fri­day

Bill Nighy as In­spec­tor John Kil­dare and Olivia Cooke as El­iz­a­beth Cree in The Lime­house Golem

Olivia Cooke in a scene with Dou­glas Booth as Dan Leno

Olivia Cooke with Maria Valverde as Ave­line Ortega

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