This is Jonathan Preest (Ryan Phillippe), and as he ponders religion he turns to a conclusion about tonight: he will have to kill someone. As he dons his costume and mask to pass through the denizens of this city, all of whom believe in some deity apart from him, he doesn't know quite how things will turn out. Neither does Milo (Sam Riley), who was jilted at the altar and is now seeking comfort that may not be there, or the suicidal art student Emilia (Eva Green) whose latest project could end her life, not to mention Peter (Bernard Hill) who is looking for his missing son...
Franklyn, however, may not turn up at all in this conundrum of a film, the feature debut from Gerald McMorrow which after a short film, failed to have much impact on the moviegoing public, yet nevertheless sufficiently intrigued a small portion of the possible audience who caught it to muster up a minor cult following. That was particularly noticeable for those who liked a film they could think over well after they'd watched it, for the plotlines here did not offer much cohesion, even at the end where they're meant to tie in together, and begged the viewer to bring their own interpretation to what occurred.
In some ways this was the cinematic equivalent of Iain Banks' novel Walking on Glass, which took three apparently unconnected stories and found a way to bring them into to a close which linked them all, even though one of them did not take place in the "real" world at all. So it was here, as the Preest narrative thread happened in a parallel universe, casting him as a superhero of sorts, or at least some kind of crusader who gets into the odd, slightly halfhearted, hand to hand combat situation. Meanwhile we think the other three main characters are ensconced in the everyday England of the early twenty-first century, except that McMorrow has a trick or two up his sleeve to call that into question.
Nothing if not ambitious, whether it was an artistic success was another matter, and you could readily understand why there were so many opinions as to what was supposed to be going on. It might have been a better idea to let it all wash over you, as if you didn't muse over it too much you had quite a nice experience in that it appeared the film knew what was meant by its quasi-mysticism even if it had trouble conveying that to every possible viewer. At times this came across as unfocussed as no sooner had we got familiar with one character's plight than we were headed off in an alternative direction, all the while amping up the weirdness levels even in the most apparently prosaic of the tales.
As you might have expected, this was more a writer-director's work than an actor's, though the ensemble managed to create some kind of coherence even when they spent most of the time apart. McMorrow evidently had some issues with religion as in the parallel universe of Preest there was a rash of diverging faiths, some worshipping as flimsy a scripture as washing machine instructions or nail manicurists, yet by the end it was suggested some more benevolent deity was looking on, which might have been McMorrow himself as he at least offers a happy ending and the safety of love for some of them. Along the way were imaginary childhood friends, the debilitating after-effects of war, and the difficulty of living with other people, family included, that the more fragile souls suffered, all very deep after a fashion, but leaving Franklyn something of a muddle. Never less than interesting, though. Music by Joby Talbot.