When you go to the cinema you don’t expect to see live acting, do you? You would go to the theatre instead, wouldn’t you? Surely this is what distinguishes the very nature of the two art media. Well, Woody Harrelson is here prove you wrong. In the evening of January 19th earlier this year, the famous actor decided to make his first picture in real time and broadcast it live to 550 theatres in the US and the UK. Oh, and he’s also the lead in the film. Plus the film is based on real events that took place in 2002. Rest assured, Lost in London is like nothing else you’ve seen before.
Woody Harrelson’s debut takes autobiography to a whole new level. Would you reenact the most embarrassing night in your life ever, when you got drunk, damaged a cab, got chased by the police and finally got arrested while your wife and your kids waited for you at your hotel room so you could take them to the set of a Harry Potter movie in the morning? Well, Woody Harrelson did. And it’s remarkable that he is able to laugh at himself. This is self-deprecating comedy taken to an extreme. Not everyone has such ability. Don’t expect Tom Cruise to be doing the same any time soon! So we should congratulate Harrelson.
Lost in London is also an major achievement from a technological perspective. It’s certainly not the first film to be made entirely in one take. Hitchcock famously flirted with the idea in Rope (1948), although the absence of digital film prevented him from accomplishing this. Fifty-four years later the Russian filmmaker Alexander Sokurov finally did it in the superb Russian Ark. It took him two failed attempts before the final take was made. Then the German action movie Victoria (Sebastien Schipper) repeated the achievement last year, thereby inspiring Harrelson to try it too – click here for our exclusive review of Victoria. But there is a remarkable difference: Harrelson did it live to 550 cinemas in the UK and the US. He did rehearse beforehand, but he could not afford to stop halfway through and start all over again, like Sokurov did twice.
The film has, however, a few shortcomings. Despite being a very personal endeavour, the cinema and self-references are a little bit excessive, and the humour becomes a little trite after a while. And the acting (even Woody Harrelson’s) is sometimes a little wooden (no pun intended) – probably to blame on the pressure of doing it live in front of a moving camera. It’s also a very macho, testosterone-fueled movie, and there is a subliminal message at the end that would Tammy Wynette ecstatic with joy: Harrelson’s wife Laura sticks with her spouse despite all of his wrongdoing: having sex with three women and going to jail. She did definitely stand by her man!!!
Lost in London is showing in cinemas across London and the UK from Friday, May 5th. Sadly you won’t be seeing this in real time. You wouldn’t expect poor ol’ Woody to reenact his past every day for weeks, would you? If you want real-time action, go to theatre instead. Or just walk down the streets of London at night.