Wednesday, 22 January 2014

From Hell- film review

From Hell is a 2001 movie about Jack the Ripper which is based on a graphic novel and stars Johnny Depp. I'd heard good things about it long before I finally caught up with it. And I found it very watchable entertainment, in the lurid and not-to-be-taken-too-seriously style of its television descendant, Ripper Street. As you might expect, the storyline plays fast and loose with the facts, but is pacy and vivid, if over-long.

Johnny Depp plays the part of Inspector Abberline, transforming the stolid chap of real life into a charismatic but troubled rake who falls in love with a prostitute, played by Heather Graham. Depp and Graham are very appealing actors, and so are some of the excellent supporting cast members - notably the late Ian Richardson, Robbie Coltrane, Jason Flemyng and Ian Holm. I thought one of the other prostitute-victims looked familiar - and she proved to be Estelle Skomik, best remembered as Nicole in the legendary Renault Clio advertisements of years ago...

The plot is a mish-mash of various conspiracy theories about the Ripper killings, with Royalty, the medical profession and the freemasons all getting a drubbing. I'm fairly sure that the list of candidates suspected of being Jack the Ripper will continue to lengthen. One suspect is even supposed to be buried in Lymm Church's graveyard, which I can see from where I'm sitting as I type this post. Then, of course, there was James Maybrick, supposed author of the famous Jack the Ripper diary. And so on.

The gruesome nature of the Ripper killings mean that they will always attract attention, some of it serious, some of it prurient. Anyone interested in real life crime is almost certain to have some interest in the Ripper case, although I find some domestic cases - Wallace, Buck Ruxton, Crippen, Armstrong and so on - in many ways more fascinating. But I'm glad I watched From Hell. It doesn't add to our understanding of the case in any way, but the stellar quality of  the cast is more than adequate compensation.

1 comment:

Sarah said...

It's years since I saw this film but I remember enjoying it. As you say, not to be taken too seriously.