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The Limehouse Golem – A Victorian-era whodunnit with a never-saw-it-coming twist
As if the dreary London town of Limehouse hasn’t suffered enough, there’s now a serial killer on the loose. So vicious are the attacks that the residents relish in the idea that their community is being terrorised by a supernatural monster, The Limehouse Golem. Detective John Kildare, played by the stylish Bill Nighy, has been set up to fail in his quest to find the real murderer.
Kildare’s work may already be done when the controlling, unfaithful husband of stage actress Elizabeth Cree (Olivia Cooke) is found dead and she is charged with poisoning him. Kildare embarks on a process of elimination to prove deceased John Cree’s guilt as the serial killer – who perhaps chose suicide to avail himself of being caught – and thus save Elizabeth from the gallows.
You’d be forgiven for thinking that The Limehouse Golem, directed by Juan Carlos is a Dickens adaptation. All the elements are there: the dark, cobbled London mews, unlucky ladies of the night, the poor little, but extremely cute street urchins and the inevitable death and despair. But no, this film is the rework of a 1994 novel by biographer and poet, Peter Ackroyd. The screenplay credit goes to Jane Goldman (Kick-Ass, The Woman in Black, X-Men). Each character is perfectly cast -but Nighy and Cooke’s standout performances steal the show.
Press screening attendees had the pleasure of being welcomed to the Picturehouse Central in London by none other than Nighy himself. He delighted in the fact that he’d always wanted to play a detective. I wonder whether Juan Carlos saw Nighy’s turn as a chief inspector in the comedy flick Hot Fuzz. Touchingly, The Limehouse Golem is dedicated to the late Alan Rickman, who was set to play Nighy’s character but had to pull out due to illness.
A classic murder mystery with a brilliantly unpredictable ending, The Limehouse Golem is a tale within a tale and is narrated in parts by the theatrical drag artist Dan Leno (Douglas Booth). The lighting, Victorian costumes, the blood and gore, intertwined with typical British humour makes this film a pleasure to watch, even though thrillers aren’t my ‘thing’. I did slightly better than my plus-one, who watched most of the film behind closed fingers!