A quirky portmanteau of 11 shorts, London Unplugged doesn’t really work, even with a nice bit of Juliet Stevenson
“No-one has time for anyone”
A London Film School, Psychology News, Four Corners Film and the Migrant Resource Centre, London Unplugged betrays its collaborative origins in a scattershot collection of 10 short films. Trying to re-establish depictions of London on film in some kind of reality, it certainly has highly admirable ambitions.
But the reality of so many different writers and directors being given so broad a canvas as London life means that the end result is highly uneven and only occasionally satisfying. Attempts are made to string the films together with the linking device of a runner making her way from Stratford to Kew Gardens but it doesn’t work, there’s no real connective tissue there.
And so we dip in and out of random stories of random lives. Sometimes sexy (Dog Days‘ midnight swim), sometimes profound (Shopping’s philosophy lesson in a sex shop), sometimes right on the money (The Door To nailing the capital’s tendency to cultural pretentiousness). But sadly, these are the exceptions rather than the rule.
Too often, films are hamstrung by trying to tackle weighty issues in so short a space of time and on so limited a budget. Immigration, gentrification, loneliness in the elderly, big topics are let down by poor production values, insubstantial writing or in some cases, weak acting. It’s great to see London shown off with all its rough edges but the project needs refining.