With its homemade effects and strong emotional kick, this film feels almost like a Michel Gondry movie. Although a deranged sense of humour makes it thoroughly British. It's an odd concoction, but it gets under the skin.
Stephen (Hogg) has locked himself in his flat for a year, refusing to go outside. Then something disrupts his compulsive routine, and he starts reminiscing about a road trip he took with his chucklehead pal Bunny (Farnaby) just before he withdrew from life. Travelling around Europe, Bunny indulged in sex and rampant gambling, and it wasn't until they got to Poland that Stephen met a girl, Eloisa (Echegui). As they drove her home to Spain, they met various colourful people and had some life-changing adventures.
The film is gorgeously shot, edited and designed to highlight the difference between real life and Stephen's memories. Each flashback is rendered in the style of something from his flat--newspapers, clock parts, Post-its, file boxes. And the performances are heightened accordingly, with Farnaby playing Bunny as a goofy lout opposite Hogg's obsessively uptight Stephen. But their chemistry is striking; despite frequent clashes, we believe they have a strong bond of friendship.
There are constant little details that reveal each character to us along the way, with dialog that's snappy, natural and often very funny. There are also running gangs (such as Stephen's cocktail preparation) and hilarious asides (Ayoade as a puntastic museum guide), but underneath it all is a surprisingly involving story of a shy, cute man trying desperately to emerge from his shell while his scruffy, crazy friend tries to push him.
And the people they meet along the way really liven things up, from Syms' glowering Swiss hotelier to Barratt's dog-loving homeless guy. Echegui manages to create a sharp character all her own, while Fielding is very funny as Eloisa's bull-fighting brother. Sometimes it feels repetitive and a little too wacky, with perhaps too much inventiveness on screen, if that's possible. But writer-director King really catches the fact that people view life in very different ways, that recovering from emotional pain is extremely difficult and that a true friend lasts forever, no matter what.