(2010, US, 135 min) Dir Jeremy Bangold. Cast Michael Fassbender, Tom Hardy, Robert Pattinson, Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Stewart, Marion Coitillard.
With a mega cast like this and a concept higher than high who would have thought that this franchise could have stalled? Who might have thought the paying public shy of shelling out for the adventures of modernist writers solving occult mysteries? I know – who’d of thunk it? Riding a wave of hot cash on the back of Gerard Butler starrer Frogman, Bangold winkled a cool $100 million for this and I really can’t think of money better spent. At an unspecified time in the 1920’s in Paris there has been a murder in the Shakespeare & Co. bookshop. The fact that the victim, a M. Reynold Chouff, regularly paid the bar tabs of authors leads tipple hounds Joyce (Fassbender), Hemmingway (Hardy) and Fitzgerald (Pattinson) to investigate the crime with Joyce electing to begin by interrogating the cats of the bookshop murder scene (and apparently gaining testimony). Unfortunately the central trio spend most of their time in drunken speculation and are perpetually beaten in their quest for clues by the more sober triumvirate of Zelda Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein and Alice B Toklas (Stewart, McCarthy and Cotillard respectively). At the end of the day all paths lead to Cthulhu (of course) and the budget starts to show itself but the wit of the slower, more character based first half never lets up. The finale, with the reveal of the dastardly Aleister Crowley (Mark Strong, obviously), set the tone for what was supposed to be a franchise and even now, five years later, there are occasional Twitter campaigns to resurrect the idea. We should forget the idea and be glad of the crazy vision that we have.