Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating 9/10
Cast: Tim Roth, Samantha Morton, Nico Mirallegro, Jodie Comer, John-Paul Hurley, Christopher Hatherall, Tim Bentinck, Sonya Cassidy, Bryan Parry, Eiry Thomas, Chris Reilly, Pearl Appleby, Erin Armstrong, Kevin Mathurin, Sarah Quintrell.
There are some names that fall through history’s tentacles like poisoned water, the seeds of their crimes going undetected at the time and yet their title living on for all eternity, gruesome and disturbing, shocking and vile, there is no other way to describe the horror that was committed by John Reginald Christie at Rillington Place.
There is more than one way to portray menacing, to have the thought of fear place its bony skeletal fingers on your neck, you can be as loud and oppressing as you want, you can flip out and rampage with ease, however it takes real skill to represent menace with a soft undemanding voice; it is in that fear, the representation of true evil that is enough to cause sleepless nights and worried days.
In the same vein as the great Richard Attenborough managed in the 1970s film 10 Rillington Place, Tim Roth manages to evoke the air of disgust, of the careworn and untidy scrapped, of a life turned sour as John Reginald Christie. It is in such a performance that the air around you can become stifling, can become fought for and seen to be impotent, the tragedy of one person dying at the hands of such a forbidding, unassuming man is shocking, to see it played out, knowing full well that so many women went to their deaths at the hands of a quiet lunatic is beyond horrific.
Rillington Place blends the poverty of the years after the war, with its lack of care towards social ills and the cracks that so many, especially in the deprived areas of cities such as London, Birmingham and Liverpool, were falling into. The plight of women such as Ethel Christie, Beryl Evans Muriel Eady and Hectorina MacLennan and in the framing of Timothy Evans for the murder of his wife Beryl should be seen as an example of the culpability of the police and their ways of dealing with such cases, especially in the light of all the evidence they missed.
This tragic story once more highlights the very worst aspects of humanity’s personality, the stain that resides in some behind closed doors and the horror that awaits the next unsuspecting soul.
Riveting, a powerful performance by its two lead actors, both Tim Roth and Samantha Morton are exceptional in their allotted roles and if the makers of the film wanted to keep the macabre name of 10 Rillington Place alive and in the public conscious, then they have succeeded beyond measure.
Ian D. Hall