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By Phil Hall | February 10, 2006

“London” is not about the British capital. It is about a 21-year-old New Yorker named Syd who’s been in a cycle of drugs, booze and self-loathing after his girlfriend dumped him. His girlfriend’s name is London. Syd discovers from a mutual friend that London is moving to Los Angeles and is having a farewell party at her apartment. Syd crashes the party with Bateman, a 40-year-old Englishman with an acute coke habit whom he met at a bar earlier in the day. Syd and Bateman take up residence in London’s bathroom (which is perhaps the single largest bathroom in the history of movies). In this palatial porcelain principality, these awful guys snort coke and gulp down booze while engaging in endless discussions about love, sex, art and faith. Occasionally, people who come in to use the toilet join the talk and indulge in a bit of cocaine. Throughout this ordeal, Syd has flashbacks of happier days when and London had passionate sex.

First-time filmmaker Hunter Richards has created a film which is so thoroughly incompetent that it is impossible to imagine how this ever got picked up for theatrical release. The writing is thudding in its clumsiness (imagine the Woody Allen-Tony Roberts conversations from the Woodster’s early comedies ripped off by untalented film school students), and the direction is non-existent. In Richards’ world, hipster behavior is represented with scatalogical language, endless glasses of wine, and talking about God while sitting on a toilet.

Chris Evans and Jessica Biel, two performers better known for their sculpted physiques than their dramatic skills, play Syd and London. Their performances as the tumultuous lovers are amateurish, but they are less painful to endure when they are wearing a minimal amount of clothing. Jason Statham plays Bateman, and he spits his lines out with such contempt that he seems like a refugee from a community theater production of “Richard III.”

In film’s press kit, filmmaker Richards cited Jean Renoir as being among his “biggest influences.” That is peculiar, since Jean Renoir made great films and Richards did not. “London” is the independent film world’s equivalent of a fiasco.

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