Gorgeous photography and an elusive storytelling style combine to make this dark dramatic thriller both gripping and rather frustrating. Without some understanding of the nature of honour killing in Britain, it will be difficult to make much sense out of the plot. But the atmospheric filmmaking helps make up for this, and it also covers over an uneven central performance.
The story opens in an isolated trailer park on the edge of a Yorkshire town, where young Laila (Sameena Jabeen Ahmed) is in hiding with her Scottish boyfriend Aaron (Connor McCarron). But as she quietly heads to work, there are several men on her trail. Laila's brother Zaheer (Ali Ahmad) is just back from Pakistan and is tracking her down with three friends, while her father (Wasim Zakir) has hired Tony (Gary Lewis) and his friend Barry (Barry Nunney) to find her. Clearly, her family wants her back, and Laila knows they're not planning to welcome her with open arms. So she and Aaron make a run for it.
Shot and edited in an observational style, directors Daniel and Matthew Wolfe don't make it very easy for the audience, never quite explaining what's happening and letting the actors speak in mumbled thick dialect. This makes it tricky to engage with any of the characters, especially the inexpressive Ahmed, who is better in the quiet scenes than she is when required to display emotion. She does capture a strong sense of desperation, as Laila is literally fighting for her life. It's clear that each character has his or her own story within the bigger narrative, but working these out sometimes feels like a chore, even with terrific actors on board like Lewis, Nichola Burley (as Laila's boss) and Kate Dickie (as Aaron's mum).
Continue reading: Catch Me Daddy Review
This may look like a rom-com, with its obvious plotting and over-cute characters, but it's eerily lacking any actual romance or comedy. And there isn't much else to grab onto either, even though the likeable cast do what they can with a superficial script. Sadly, the director never manages to pull it all together.
Set in Glasgow, the story centres on Jane (Gillan), an aspiring author who is tired of rejection letters from publishers about her first novel, a down-beat story about father-daughter gloom. Then she gets an offer from a tiny local publishing house run by sexy Frenchman Tom (Weber) and his goofy assistant Roddy (De Caestecker). And the book is a surprise hit, winning awards and propelling her into rising-star glamour, complete with a flashy new screenwriter boyfriend (Cusick). But as she writes her second book, she gets writer's block due the thought of finishing her contract with Tom. She couldn't possibly be in love with him, could she? Meanwhile, in need of the manuscript, Tom and Roddy try to spark her writing by making her life as miserable as possible.
The film has a choppy structure that makes it impossible for anyone to have a meaningful moment. Every plot point is conveyed with another musical montage featuring colourful Glasgow landmarks and local indie music, all of which is nice to look at even though it leaves us unable to care. And while screenwriter Solomons at least tries to reinvent the standard rom-com structure, he still can't disguise the obvious fact that Jane and Tom are meant for each other from the start. And we also never doubt Jane's awkward attempts to reconcile with her dad (Lewis).
Continue reading: Not Another Happy Ending Review
As another full-on Irvine Welsh adaptation Trainspotting did in 1996, this bracingly original movie puts a new filmmaker on the map. Not only is this a loud blast of both style and substance, but it refuses to water down its subject matter, taking us through a shockingly profane story in a way that's both visually inventive and emotionally resonant.
This is the story of Bruce (McAvoy), an Edinburgh detective who's determined to beat his colleagues to a promotion. He's also a relentless womaniser, sexist, racist and drug addict. And he'll do anything to get ahead, hiding the sordid details of his private life from his boss (Sessions) while undermining the other cops at any chance while pretending to be their friends. In quick succession, he gets young Ray (Bell) addicted to cocaine, flirts continually with Amanda (Poots), has a fling with the kinky wife (Dickie) of fellow officer Gus (Lewis), torments Peter (Elliott) about his sexuality, and takes Bladesey (Marsan) on a sex-tourism holiday while making obscene calls to his needy wife (Henderson). All of this happens while Bruce leads the investigation into a grisly murder.
McAvoy dives so far into this role that we barely recognise him in there. Bruce is so amoral that we are taken aback by each degrading moment. And yet McAvoy somehow manages to hold our sympathy due to the film's blackly hilarious tone and a startling undercurrent of real emotion. Even though he's a monster, we see his boyish fragility, especially in surreal sequences involving his therapist (Broadbent), which merge with his fantasies, hallucinations and nightmares.
Continue reading: Filth Review
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Bruce Robertson is a vile, devious and emotionally disturbed individual who also happens to be a Detective Sergeant. Off duty, he lives a life of debauchery; snorting line after line of cocaine and indulging in sordid sexual encounters with numerous women while trying to control his unpredictable bipolar personality. On duty, he does everything within his power to trick, deceive and ruin the lives of his colleagues with whom he competes to achieve a promotion to detective inspector. He does nothing to hide his radical views on race and women as he attempts to solve a grisly murder that seems to have more to it than he initially thought. With the web of lies he weaves throughout his life, will he be able to sort out truths from the untruths in order to maintain his sanity as his deteriorating mental health threatens to cripple him? And will he ever be reunited with the wife he is so desperate to resolve things with?
Adapted from the novel by Irvine Welsh, 'Filth' has been directed and written by Jon S. Baird ('Cass') and sees an intense star-studded cast convert to screen an compelling story of insanity, romance and deceit. This shocking 18-rated crime drama is set to hit UK cinemas in September 2013.
It's 1974 when Jenny and Len (Ashfield and Waddington) move into a new home.
They're delighted with the increase in space and the lovely Yorkshire setting, but their 17-year-old daughter Sally (Connor) is annoyed that her life has been disrupted. And the rolling blackouts don't help either, especially since the darkness seems to reveal something malevolent lurking in the shadows.
Continue reading: When the Lights Went Out Review