Londinium (2001) / Comedy-Romance
aka Four Play / Fourplay
aka Love Affairs
aka Life After Sex
MPAA Rated: Not rated, but would be R for language, nudity, mild violence and sexual situations
Running Time: 87 min.
Cast: Mike Binder, Colin Firth, Mariel Hemingway, Irene Jacob, Jack Dee, Stephen Fry, Stephen Marcus, Christopher Lawford, Kate Magowan
Director: Mike Binder
Screenplay: Mike Binder
Review published May 25, 2004
Mike Binder (of HBO's "The Mind of the Married Man") writes, directs and stars as Ben Greene, a successful American sitcom writer who is hired in Great Britain to work on a sitcom starring American actress Carly (Hemingway, Manhattan), who works alongside her husband and producer, Allen (Firth, Love Actually). Ben meets, falls in love with, and marries the sexy French make-up girl, Fiona (Jacob, Three Colors: Red), but fast forward one year, and both couples are struggling with staleness in their marriage. Soon, Ben and Carly begin to have a thing for each other, but to counter the guilt, they encourage Fiona and Allen to have a fling first, but once they swap partners, will they find true happiness or does the grass only seem greener when with someone else?
Proving once again that Woody Allen's style is constantly duplicated but rarely replicated, Londinium tries to crack sharp about the natural staleness that begins to grow after the luster of the first year together wears off, but just doesn't have the right comedic chemistry to back up the script. Much of this is Binder's own fault, who directs this film as if he were making some sort of light 60s romantic comedy, with a completely misplaced old fashioned musical score, and attempts at frothy whimsy that doesn't jibe with the cynical thematic makeup of the material. Also, as a screenwriter, Binder tries to pull together some truths about love, but at no time does it ever truly feel like any of the couples are ever in love, and in fact, they seem altogether cavalier about the infidelity and dissolutions of their marriages, regardless of whether or not the sex has lost its zing.
There are very few laughs to be found in Londinium, and with the message that all relationships are only good when they are new and fresh, it's not really even recommended for people seeking a date flick or feel-good romantic comedy. There's constant dialogue about the nature of marriage, or I should say, monologues, but without a foundation of reality among the characters, it all rings pretty hollow. Tepid at best.
©2004 Vince Leo