'London Fields' Director Agrees With Critics Savaging His Film

I didn't bother to see Matthew Cullen's adaptation of London Fields, but our writer Jake Sokolsky did and he pretty much ripped it. He wasn't alone. The film has a 0% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, but more importantly it had one of the all-time worst box office debuts in history with just $160K in over 600 theaters. Oof.  After a three-year battle to get the film into theaters and absolutely zero buzz to help it, none of this should come as a surprise. Not even to Cullen, who says all of the bad rap the film has received is totally justified.

So here's the deal. London Fields was due to open three years ago, following a big premiere at TIFF. However, that debut never happened because of a dispute between Cullen and the film's producers. Lawsuits followed, including one by star Amber Heard, and the film sat in limbo looking like it would never be released.

Cullen eventually struck a deal with the new rights holders to have a version of the film released. And it got murdered.

“I’ve read the reviews. I agree with them,” Cullen told THR.

The film is based on Martin Amis' book and co-stars Billy Bob Thornton, Theo James, and Jim Sturgess; a strong cast who are also pretty reliable. But Cullen says figuring out a way to adapt the material proved a huge hurdle to overcome...

“There’s a reason why they said that Amis’ book was unadaptable.” 

He's not kidding. David Cronenberg, David Mackenzie, and Michael Winterbottom have all given it a shot before figuring that out for themselves.

What's strange is that there are two versions of London Fields out there, right now. Cullen agreed to finance his own cut of the film, but that's not the one getting shredded by critics. That would be the cut put together by the producers, who have also made sure it's the one most widely seen. Pretty dumb, right?

Cullen chose to take the bullet and keep his name on the film, even though this cut wasn't his. He says, “Under DGA rules, I could have used a pseudonym, but in that process, I wouldn’t ever be allowed to talk about the film again and I wouldn’t have had the ability to release my version of the film.” 

The report adds that Cullen is considering retirement from filmmaking, which is sad to hear from a director so young in the business. Maybe he'll go back to making music videos, which I assume is less cutthroat?

London Fields is still in theaters, but it won't be for long so better check it out soon.