We Are the Freaks Movie Review
This offbeat British drama shows real promise for new filmmaker Justin Edgar, although his relentlessly gimmicky filmmaking style is so attention-grabbing that it makes it nearly impossible to engage with the story or characters. But the bright young cast is very watchable, and even if the script never digs beneath the surface, the film's stylish energy holds our interest.
It's set in 1990 Birmingham, where 18-year-old Jack (Jamie Blackley) is desperate to escape from his boring family and annoying job and go to university, although he'll need a government grant to do that. His best pals Parsons (Mike Bailey) and Chunks (Simon Teal) have their own problems, and over the course of a fateful night these three misfits encounter smart-sexy musician Elinor (Amber Anderson), Parson's pushy girlfriend (Rosamund Hanson) and a ruthless thug (Michael Smiley).
The too-clever script opens with a post-modern monologue in which Jack looks at the camera and says, "I hate it when people in movies talk to the camera." Which pretty much explains the film's sparky style. The problem is that filmmaker Edgar is trying far too hard to deconstruct the genre, avoiding any narrative coherence for a series of random mini-adventures that don't quite connect together. Each of these three guys learns some sort of important lesson over the course of the night, but the film remains resolutely superficial in its approach.
This leaves the actors feeling almost unnecessary. These are gifted, rising star performers, but they struggle to find the centre of their characters. So the most riveting presence on-screen is Smiley's straight-talking drug dealer. The friendship between these three guys is never explored at all, and their romantic sideroads are half-hearted at best. Still, Edgar shows real skill in the way he shoots and edits the movie, which bodes well for future projects. As long as he can keep his more indulgent impulses in check and focus on the characters and story.