It’s always the quiet ones you have to watch out for. Adam Wimpenny’s film Roar is a slow-burning look at what happens when a customer gives a well-meaning key-cutter the brushoff. Jodie Whittaker’s Eva has just had a dodgy experience picking up her dry cleaning from Tom Burke’s salacious Mick and Tom, Russell Tovey, who works in the same shop follows her to make amends. But she understandably doesn’t want to know and J.S. Hill’s story turns its gaze onto Tom and the loneliness of his life. It’s Christmastime and so his estrangement from his father cuts particularly hard but as his attempts at contact are rebuffed, something breaks inside of him… Wimpenny builds the tension of the film excellently, giving us a sense of how desolate watching others’ festive joy can make a person and finding genuinely chilling moments to make us jump. Not one to watch on your own in the dark.
A bit of campy nonsense to finish off with in Richard West’s Corpse. An overly precious and highly hammy ageing thespian is outraged when his star performance in a poky little show is entirely upstaged by a last minute stand-in who plays a corpse. Philip Jackson’s deluded Harold Brazier is good fun as is Oliver Chris’ dopey light technician who is the one roped in to play the stiff yet finds himself the centre of all attention and thus the target of Brazier’s murderous ambition. A framing device feels a little heavy-handed and not entirely necessary but it is all amiable enough.
Written and directed by Marcus Markou, The Last Temptation of Chris is a 10 minute drama starring Ed Stoppard as a former banker turned marriage guidance counsellor who is forced onto the horns of a dilemma when his first girlfriend and her husband become his new clients. They don’t declare their former attachment and find that old flames still burn brightly, presenting Chris with the ethical quandary of whether to choose the personal over the professional. It is well acted – Stoppard has one of those fascinating faces I could stare at all day, Imogen Slaughter is inscrutably interesting as Nicky and James Garnon is good as the unknowing cuckold. It doesn’t quite pack the emotional punch it could but is elegantly shot and well-paced.
A rather daffy but good-hearted animated clip about the trials a relationship goes through when a woman returns from a trip away having completely changed shaped. Alan Davies is all baffled charm and Katherine Parkinson exudes prickly sensitivity as they skirt around the issue until finally, the filo breaks… Yasmeen Ismail and Peter Baynton’s animation has a pleasing simplicity and Ismail, who also directed and wrote it, should definitely be proud of it.
Love Does Grow On Trees is “set in a time before the internet, the more innocent days of the late 1980s…” and though it would be probably be pilloried for perpetuating popular perception about pornography, Bevan Walsh’s film is actually really rather gorgeous. Danny is your archetypal teenage boy, obsessed with getting a look at a dirty mag any which way he can but when opportunity unexpectedly falls his way, he comes to realise the value of real life interaction with girls. Luke Ward-Wilkinson is an appealing hero, especially when trying his best with El Krajewski’s sweet potential love interest and a cameo from Tom Brooke as the patron saint of porn is inspired brilliance.