London Fields (film)
|Directed by||Mathew Cullen|
|Written by||Roberta Hanley|
|Based on||London Fields
by Martin Amis
|Budget||$8 million (estimated)|
London Fields is an upcoming thriller film directed by Mathew Cullen and written by Roberta Hanley. It is based on the 1989 novel of the same name by Martin Amis. The film stars Billy Bob Thornton as Samson Young, a terminally ill writer who has suffered from writer's block for 20 years. The cast also includes Amber Heard, Jim Sturgess, Theo James, Johnny Depp, Cara Delevingne and Jaimie Alexander.
It was selected to be screened in the Special Presentations section of the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival, but it was later pulled from the festival roster after director Mathew Cullen sued the film's producers, accusing them of fraud and using his name to promote a cut of the film he does not support.
- Cara Delevingne as Kath Talent
- Billy Bob Thornton as Samson Young
- Amber Heard as Nicola Six
- Jim Sturgess as Keith Talent
- Theo James as Guy Clinch
- Jason Isaacs as Mark Asprey
- Jaimie Alexander as Hope Clinch
- Johnny Depp as Chick Purchase
David Cronenberg was attached in 2001 to do a film adaptation of the book, and Amis wrote a draft of the script. However, Cronenberg left the film for A History of Violence and Eastern Promises. Other directors attached include David Mackenzie and Michael Winterbottom. The film entered production with Mathew Cullen in September 2013 in London, England.
Announcing the start of filming, The Guardian's Ben Child observed, "It has languished in Hollywood purgatory for well over a decade while directors of the calibre of David Cronenberg, Michael Winterbottom and Shekhar Kapur have come and gone. But Martin Amis's most celebrated novel, London Fields, is finally due to begin shooting today in the British capital with a high-profile cast that includes Amber Heard, Billy Bob Thornton and Jim Sturgess". Child added, "Amis adaptations have something of a chequered history, with both Dead Babies and The Rachel Papers picking up critical brickbats upon release, and a proposed adaptation of 1985's Money starring Gary Oldman failing to materialise. With the novelist having been working on the London Fields screenplay since at least 2008, the fact that production has finally begun will presumably come as something of a relief for the 64-year-old writer. That it is being overseen by the director of Katy Perry's California Gurls video is something of an unusual last-minute twist in the tale".
On September 16, 2015, it was reported Lionsgate had acquired distribution rights to the film. Noting the film's troubled screening history, UK daily newspaper The Daily Telegraph found that "Any big-screen adaptation of Martin Amis's London Fields – a novel long regarded as unadaptable – was expected to be controversial, though probably not in quite the way that has transpired". The paper's reviewer, Jane Mulkerrins, wrote: "Set in 1999 (though published a decade earlier), the story is narrated by Samson Young, a New York writer recently arrived in London with writer's block and a terminal disease, and played by an unusually limp Thornton. […] The timeline is messy and confusing, with glaringly anachronistic details such as a scene at the top of the Gherkin (opened in 2004). […] [Amber] Heard, who certainly has the requisite physical allure for the part, puts in a decent enough turn as the enigmatic Six but, like her on-screen character, can seemingly do the nothing to prevent the brutal murder, either of herself, or of Amis's bestseller".
In September 2015, the film was pulled from the Toronto International Film Festival, after Matthew Cullen filed a lawsuit against the films producers, for fraud, failing to pay him, and taking away final cut. The producers responded to the lawsuit stating : “The timing and the content of the director’s lawsuit shows that it is a publicity stunt. The filing of Mathew Cullen’s complaint violates the arbitration provisions of his own guild, the DGA. Sadly, Mathew can’t deal with the fact that he does not control the final cut of the movie. He was given two deadlines to deliver a ‘director’s cut’ and missed both deadlines. His guild has rules for withdrawing his name from the picture and he missed those deadlines. The production company will vigorously oppose the lawsuit.” In November 2015 the producers counterclaimed for breach of contract, saying they had terminated the director's formal editing rights period and notified the Directors Guild of America when the film was $2 million over budget and late for delivery. They accuse Cullen of violating both his agreement with them and DGA rules by working on a music video for Katy Perry during his time editing London Fields, and further that Cullen withheld promotional support and committed tortious interference by discouraging the film's stars from performing promotional and post-production services. In April 2016, a judge allowed the case to proceed.
In November 2016, a second lawsuit was filed by the producers suing Amber Heard for $10 million. The lawsuit claims Heard and Cullen made unauthorized changes to the film's script and failed to finish voice-over work. Heard countersued claiming the producers violated a nudity clause in her contract.
Writing in The Independent, Kaleem Aftab recalled that "Martin Amis adaptations have a habit of creating fury among directors; director William Marsh, who made Dead Babies in 2000, also complained of a cut going out without his sign-off", before adding that "The very parts of the film that the director Mathew Cullen is reportedly complaining about – archive images of the world in chaos, most notably scenes of the 2011 London riots – actually help lend gravitas to proceedings, which suffer from wooden acting and meandering pacing throughout". Overall, Aftab found that, "Most scenes lack pace, are performed badly and are accompanied by a running commentary of action we can see for ourselves. It's car-crash film-making. […] Of the characters it's only the uncredited Depp, the coolest guy in the room with his dapper dress sense and long sideburns, who comes away with any credit". He concluded, "There is also a marked contrast between the London seen in the archive footage and that shot by Cullen, whose locations look like bad theatre sets. It never feels real, although he might argue that that is the point. London Quicksand might have been a better title."
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