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The Worst Man in London O Pior Homem de Londres

A film by Rodrigo Areias with Albano Jerónimo, Edward Ashley, Victoria Guerra

In Victorian London, amidst the Pre-Raphaelite community and political conspiracies, loomed a man of adventurous spirit and great wit: Charles Augustus Howell. He was an agent for great artists and an art dealer, secret agent and master of blackmail. Arthur Conan Doyle made him a character in the Sherlock Holmes stories and called him the worst man in London.

2023 | Spoken languages: English, French, Italian, Portuguese | M/12 | 2h 10min | Drama, historical

Festivals and awards

IFFR – Rotterdam International Film Festival

Big Screen Competition

Cast and crew

Albano Jerónimo - Charles Augustus Howell
Edward Ashley - Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Victoria Guerra - Lizzie Siddal
Scott Coffey - John Ruskin
Christian Vadim - La Rothière
Carmen Chaplin - Lady Posselthwaite
With the special participation of Simon Paisley Day - William Rossetti
and the friendly participation of Jean-François Balmer - Comte Henri de Pourtalès

Produced by Paulo Branco
Director of Photography Jorge Quintela
Screenplay Eduardo Brito
Executive producer Ana Pinhão Moura
Delegate producer Mariana Marta Branco
Editor Tomás Baltazar
Art director Ricardo Preto
Costumes designer Susana Abreu
Music Samuel Martins Coelho
Sound Pedro Marinho, Elsa Ferreira, Pedro Góis

A Leopardo Filmes production
In association with 

APM Produções  

Alfama Films Production  

Viva Devagar
With the financial support of  

ICA - Instituto do Cinema e Audiovisual  

Fundo de Apoio ao Turismo e ao Cinema  

RTP - Rádio e Televisão de Portugal
With the support of 

Câmara Municipal do Porto  

Câmara Municipal de Viana do Castelo  

Câmara Municipal de Matosinhos  

Direcção Regional da Cultura do Norte  

Junta de Freguesia de Alvarães

Director's biography

Film director and producer Rodrigo Areias began his professional life as a musician and music producer at the label Garagem and in cinema as Sound Designer for directors such as Paulo Rocha and Edgar Pêra.

He studied Management at the Portuguese Catholic University and graduated in Sound and Image at the School of Arts. He took a specialization in film Direction at the Tisch School of Arts at NYU and attended the “Production Eurodoc Program” and “Venice Biennale College”.

In his early career, Rodrigo developed creative work in fiction and documentary, video art and video clips for some of the best bands in the Portuguese rock scene (The Legendary Tiger Man, Wray Gunn, Mão Morta, Sean Riley and the Slow Riders, etc.).

Areias has directed 8 feature films and several shorts that have been awarded in more than 40 festivals, including Karlovy Vary, for the feature Hay Road. His latest feature documentary, Blue Breath, premiered in Locarno FF First Look and won the Festivals of Ismailia, Pristina and Kalajoki. 

Since 2001 he has produced and co-produced over 150 short and feature films: fiction, documentaries, and animation, by international directors such as FJ Ossang, Gabe Klinger, Teddy Williams, Lois Patiño and Matias Piñeiro, and the Portuguese Edgar Pêra, João Canijo, Ana Rocha de Sousa and André Gil Mata.

As a producer he won a Golden Lion in Venice and a Golden Leopard in Locarno. His productions premiered in the most important festivals: Cannes, Berlim, Venice, Rotterdam, Locarno, Clermont Ferrand, Annecy.

He was responsible for the Guimarães 2012 European Capital of Culture film production and produced the films of Jean-Luc Godard, Aki Kaurismaki, Peter Greenaway, Manoel de Oliveira, Pedro Costa and Victor Erice, among many others.

The Worst Man in London is his latest feature, which premiered at the International Film Festival Rotterdam 2024 – Big Screen Competition.

Selected filmography

The Worst Man in London, Fic, 128’, 2024

Down by Life, Fic, 66’, 2021

Surdine, Fic, 75’, 2020

Blue Breath, Doc, 78’, 2018

Ornament & Crime, Fic, 90', 2015

1960, Doc, 70', 2013

Hay Road, Fic, 90', 2012

Thebes, Fic, 80', 2007

Intentions note

I have long admired the art of the Pre-Raphaelites. From Dante Gabriel Rossetti to William Holman Hunt, to Millais and Burne-Jones, they all fascinated me as artists, but their organization as a “brotherhood” fascinates me much more. The insistence on creating a reform movement, even if not avant-garde, defending art for art's sake back in the 19th century, based on the appropriation of the past, is something I really admire and, in a way, a recurrence in my cinema. I see myself at the beginning of the appropriation of genres or styles from another time transposed to today.

As a director, the intention of appropriating a painting style for the film's photography is fundamental. Here, I couldn't help but try to use as a palette of tones and colors the same one that Millais and Burne-Jones used to paint nature, the one that Rossetti used for the faces, the golden contrast with Lizzie's flaming hair...

When Jorge Luis Borges, in his film critical texts, compares Citizen Kane to the Pre-Raphaelites, he highlights not only the nature of the frames but mainly the revolution from the point of view of the use of focus. I see the film as a little more narcotic, from the point of view of the action, and the contrast of the hyper-decorated and dark interiors with the bright exteriors dominated by gardens and the nature that the Pre-Raphaelites knew how to portray so well. It is, however, a film of faces marked by the harshness of the time, of life, of laudanum, and of the weakness of the lives of artists of the past, as of today. And Howell is essential to penetrate the Victorian carapace of “good manners” of a self-absorbed London. How was he able to influence so many crucial episodes of an era that decided to omit him or make him a villain?

Rodrigo Areias

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