Belfast Telegraph

The Limehouse Golem: Style and substance in this Victorian murder mystery

 

By Damon Smith

During an ominous lull in Juan Carlos Medina's macabre murder mystery set in the fog-choked streets of Victorian London almost a decade before Jack The Ripper ran amok, a stage actor draws parallels between his craft and human nature.

"We all wear pantomime masks, do we not?" he posits.

Those words resonate with a chill throughout The Limehouse Golem, a stylish battle of wits between Scotland Yard and a diabolical serial killer, which was originally announced with Alan Rickman leading the fine ensemble cast.

In his stead, Bill Nighy brings solemnity and gravitas to the complex role of a righteous police officer, whose career has been dogged by rumours that "he's not the marrying kind".

It's a measured and moving performance, devoid of the deadpan comic shtick that has elevated Nighy in the nation's affections.

Jane Goldman's script uses cinematic trickery to keep us guessing the murderer's identity.

Evidence focuses on four prime suspects, including journalist John Cree (Sam Reid). He was recently murdered by his wife Elizabeth (Olivia Cooke) and the inspector surmises she poisoned John to end his reign of terror.

Nighy is imperious as a brilliant yet emotionally guarded man, who hopes the tricky case will reveal a path to personal redemption.

Cooke is luminous and Mays and Booth deliver textured supporting performances. Something wickedly entertaining this way comes.

Three stars

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