I Know You Know Movie Review
In 1988 Wales, 11-year-old Jamie (Fuller) loves hanging out with his dad Charlie (Carlyle). After the summer holiday, Jamie starts in a new school with a new bully (Flynn). But he's becoming increasingly aware that his dad has a double life that involves shady friends (Bradley), guns and an arch-nemesis posing as a satellite-TV company. Is Charlie a hitman or a super spy? And will they be moving to a luxurious life in America as promised? Or is something else going on here that Jamie's only beginning to understand?
Writer-director Kerrigan creates a gritty 80s atmosphere with a nice father-son vibe between Jamie and Charlie. It's quite clear from the start that Jamie's imagination is working overtime, although the discovery of his dad's gun, plus a room full of radio and recording gear, only confirms his most outlandish suspicions. Since all of this is seen through Jamie's perspective, the film feels rather sketchy and simplistic. Is this just a cute story about a father and son or is it going to turn into a nail-biting thriller?
Solid, understated performances from both Carlyle and Fuller are what make this work, creating a tension between reality and fantasy. Is Jamie imagining this or is Charlie cracking up? The acting suggests either or both, and there's a wonderfully twitchy sense of energy in Carlyle's turn that clearly shows us that he's an international man of mystery rather than just another deadbeat dad. This makes the interaction between them full of potential, such as when Charlie empowers Jamie to stand up for himself. At the same time, we can see that Charlie is also a bit of a nasty drunk.
The film builds all of this into an increasingly intense story that's infused with growing suspense and a surprising sadness. And even when the story feels strained, slowly arriving at a resolution that makes everything clear, or at least clearer, we are constantly gripped by moments of genuine power, mainly in the heartbreakingly beautiful performances at the centre.