What controversy? Director Matthew Cullen filed a million dollar suit against producer Chris Hanley for fraud and deceit. Apparently the final cut of the movie isn’t Cullen’s as per contract. It’s not unusual to have a creative riff where the producers and director are at odds but according to Deadline, this isn’t just a creative difference, this is an accusation that the producers tampered with the script beyond recognition, adding revisions utterly out of place in Amis’ story, the story that the director and actors were hired to tell.
“In this case, the defendant producers have tampered with Plaintiffs’ work as director of the film...None of the revisionary elements that Defendants have interjected into the film appear anywhere in the script,” the 17-page filing from Cullen and his Motion Theory company claims. “Nor do they have any place in the film, at least not the one that Plaintiffs were asked to direct. Among other things, these elements include incendiary imagery evoking 9/11 jumpers edited against pornography, as well as juxtaposing the holiest city in Islam against mind-control. No cast or crew member signed up for this, nor did Plaintiffs. But Defendants insist upon doing this, and more, in the names of Plaintiffs and others, notwithstanding their objections to the theft of their identities and the false, distorted and perverted associations that Defendants are imposing upon them.”
I’ve seen a couple of reviews that call out the film for being a horrible travesty of Martin Amis’ novel. Would it have been terrible had Cullen, a protege of Guillermo del Toro’s made the movie he envisioned anyway or is it all down to the producer putting his paws in, messing up the creative recipe, ending up with something so awful that Cullen doesn’t even want his name on it?
How awful is it? Read Todd McCarthy’s ghastly, really awful, take on the movie in The Hollywood Reporter. He says it’s the ‘most staggering gulf in quality between a book and a screen adaptation in recent memory.’ And Andrew Barker at Variety calls it ‘a misbegotten mess.’ OUCH!
Which is a shame as the book was highly acclaimed when it came out in 1989.
Here’s a taste from the first page and a clip from the film below, echoing these words:
“This is a true story but I can’t believe it’s really happening.
It’s a murder story, too. I can’t believe my luck.
And a love story (I think), of all strange things. So late in the century, so late in the goddamned day.
This is the story of a murder. It hasn’t happened yet. But it will. (It had better.) I know the murderer, I know the murderee. I know the time, I know the place. I know the motive (her motive) and I know the means. I know who will be the foil, the fool, the poor foal, also utterly destroyed. And I couldn’t stop them, I don’t think, even if I wanted to. The girl will die. It’s what she always wanted. You can’t stop people, once they start. You can’t stop people, once they start creating.”
Who knows if London Fields will ever see the light of day, but if it does I can imagine audiences flocking to see it just because we love a good train wreck. Pretty disappointing for fans of Martin Amis’ work though.
Good thing TIFF cancelled the Red Carpet screening. I can’t imagine any of the stars showing up.