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  Lost in London Oh What A Night
Year: 2017
Director: Woody Harrelson
Stars: Woody Harrelson, Owen Wilson, Willie Nelson, Eleanor Matsuura, Youssef Kerkour, Martin McCann, Naomi Battrick, Louisa Harland, Rebecca Hazlewood, Amir El-Masry, David Avery, Peter Ferdinando, Bono, David Mumeni, Robert Gillespie, Daniel Radcliffe
Genre: Comedy, DramaBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Woody Harrelson (as himself) is a Hollywood actor who has been performing in a play in London's prestigious West End, though you would never know it was prestigious from the audiences it has been getting - tonight there was even a couple asleep in the front, which Woody could not help but notice. To alleviate his boredom - he has a yearning to return to comedy instead of doing all these dramatic roles - he has been behaving ill-advisedly behind his wife's back, indeed last night he had a foursome with three young women he met in a nightclub, and he thought he had got away with it until, at the stage door, a paparazzo shows him a tabloid front page...

Lost in London was Harrelson's debut as director, and he was not short of ambition. Based loosely on a real incident in the British capital, as realised here it was a comedy of errors in a pseudo-realistic style, think Larry David on television, which was notable for being shot in a single take. There had been single take movies before and would be again - Victoria was probably the most famous one, though Birdman was something of a cheat since it used computer technology to achieve its take, and 1917 did too, but had a cut halfway through regardless. This was a genuine experiment, however, and one that on its scale of success did impress.

That said, after a while with these things you have to keep reminding yourself of the gimmick should you be sufficiently lost in the storyline, and Harrelson, who also penned the script, did keep this interesting. Not least because if you went to his movie's premiere, you would find it being livestreamed to the theatre and acted out live, much like a play, only taking place in a variety of pre-chosen locations across the city in the dark of night. Although you could read up later of the elements that did not quite come together, watching it as it is now you would not be able to see the strings figuratively pulled to keep this going, nor the juggling to keep the balls in the air.

Indeed, it did take some balls to not only craft this and ensure just about everything went to plan (there had been rehearsals of course, but on the night the discovery of an unexploded World War 2 bomb nearby almost cancelled the performance outright), but it could have been pretty dry if there were not a few shreds of humour in his comedy. Although it wasn't fall down hilarious, there were more than a few chuckles to be garnered from seeing Woody's ridiculous adventures, which took him to a restaurant where his wife (Eleanor Matsuura) discovers his infidelity and walks out on him, taking their two kids, to a nightclub where he meets his "best friend" and fellow movie star Owen Wilson, and subsequently to the extended finale where he had a brush with the law that had him in the cells overnight.

Wilson played himself, and offered the film buffs in the audience a plethora of in-jokes as he and Woody increasingly violently compare careers, though the oddest of such appearances was Willie Nelson in an extended cameo as a Godlike figure Woody dreams of while in the police station, strumming on his guitar and commiserating with him. The plan is for the protagonist to take his kids to see Daniel Radcliffe on the set of Harry Potter, but it is looking unlikely he will be able to make that (Radcliffe showed up as himself at the end credits in a brief interview), leaving us with a curious position of supposed to be laughing at Woody's ineptitude, while sympathising with him as the most reasonable person in a suddenly, utterly unreasonable world. He just about pulled this off, though it was difficult to believe this Harrelson would have been so lax to end up cheating on his wife at all, drunk or not. But it was worth seeing for its innovations, and compared to Russian Ark there were a lot more laughs, so obviously it was a lot better, right? Music (played live) by Antony Genn and Martin Slattery.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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