Piecing together ten short stories to form a collative anthology, London Unplugged zooms in on the very essence of the city dweller from a multitude of female-led perspectives. Uniting their narratives with a common thread of isolation, loneliness and hope is the background narrative from young rising athlete Yourlance Bianca Richards, who opens the feature. Her challenge to run from East to West London takes the viewer on a journey through the city with pit stops along the way in which the tales are able to unfold.
A collaborative effort from a group of upcoming filmmakers, writers and community hubs offers accounts of immigration, un-affordable housing, sex-shop visits and asylum seekers. With a different director for each of the segments, understandably some stories are more enjoyable than others.
Viewers will possibly favour the romantic connection of two strangers in Dog Days – especially the serendipity in a city so large. Beautiful cinematography captures the capital at night, where neon reflections in the Thames match starry mirages in the ponds they end up swimming in as they try and find something “different to do in London”.
A quirky account in The Door To follows a foreign call-centre worker as he obsesses over a woman he sees in his lunch break. When he follows her to the secret entrance of a secret club with a secret handshake, it somehow becomes a metaphor for the insider knowledge of a Londoner over someone alien, and there are definitely elements of that in each of the tales.
The musical score is relevant to every account, from pulsating beats to operatic warbling, but the absence of it in Felines is also a necessary mechanism. A starry performance from Juliet Stevenson cannot salvage this particular story as it plummets into the grotesque. Cats masticating and the slow-panning camera heighten the repugnance before the beats start up again as we follow Richards’s running trail.
There are also some comedy moments in each of the stories, and quite a few unpredictable happenings that occur along the way. A sprinkling of illustrious castings distinguish London Unplugged from a student-style drama and when Richards finally ends her journey in the “Empty but pretty place” of Kew Gardens, we feel like we have shared this urban pilgrimage with her.
London Unplugged is released in select cinemas on 18th January 2019.
Watch the trailer for London Unplugged here: