Film Review: The Bike Thief (2020)

Alec Secareanu scorches in The Bike Thief, the moodily effective debut film from Matt Chambers

“No bike, no job. No job, no money. No money, no flat.”

Using Vittorio De Sica’s 1948 neorealist classic The Bicycle Thieves as a starting point, debut writer/director Matt Chambers really makes his mark with the slow-burning The Bike Thief. Anchored by a scorchingly good performance from God’s Own Country‘s Alec Secareanu, it lays bare just some of the realities of working class life in modern-day Britain and just how close to the edge it forces people to live.

Secareanu’s nameless rider is a Romanian father of two, living cheek by jowl with each other in a London tower block. Their physical closeness might be enforced but emotionally they’re tight too. So when his moped is nicked, the ride on which he delivers pizzas, takes his teenager to school and his wife to her cleaning jobs, the precarious balance of their lives is seriously threatened. Continue reading “Film Review: The Bike Thief (2020)”

Film Review: Ammonite (2020)

Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan deliver committed performances in Francis Lee’s Ammonite but the film rarely excites

“You know you can always ask me for help”

Francis Lee follows up the exceptional God’s Own Country with another story about hard labour in LGBTQ+ lives, this time focusing on the first letter of the acronym. Ammonite follows the life of 18th century fossil hunter Mary Anning, a woman working hard in her chosen field but stifled by Victorian attitudes which resulted in her discoveries being shown without any credit being given to her in her lifetime.

Lee couples this narrative of historical misogyny with a love story of his own making, a speculative romance that sees a growing connection build with Charlotte Murchison. Their ‘meet-cute’ comes at the behest of Murchison’s husband, a geologist wanting to learn from Anning’s practices and when he opts to take a trip away which conveniently coincides with his wife falling into a depression, a period of convalesence under Mary’s care in Lyme Regis is prescribed. Continue reading “Film Review: Ammonite (2020)”

Film Review: God’s Own Country (2017)

Such a brilliant British gay film – I finally get around to watching God’s Own Country

“My country is dead. You can’t throw a rock in most towns without hitting an old lady crying for her children who have gone.”

Of course its taken me months to get round to watching God’s Own Country and of course I loved it utterly and completely. It’s grim up north and there’s nowt so queer as folk, not least Johnny Saxby, single-handedly holding his family’s failing farm together after his father’s stroke. He numbs the pain with blackout drinking sessions in the pub and rough casual sex with any guy who is up for it, but it’s no life, something has to change.

That change comes in the form of Gheorghe, a Romanian farm labourer brought in for the lambing season. His moody dark looks, lovely chunky knit and sheep’s cheese-making ways don’t quite melt Johnny’s heart so much as grip it, yank its pants down and roll in the mud with it. Theirs is a viscerally physical connection, reflecting the hard labour on this unforgiving Yorkshire countryside, and slowly, Gheorghe begins to shift Johnny’s views on the world. Continue reading “Film Review: God’s Own Country (2017)”

Review: Gundog, Royal Court

“Just make them shag each other and sell all the littluns to rich people who want pets of something”

There’s something unremittingly bleak about Simon Longman’s Gundog that makes it a real challenge. It’s an impressively bold depiction of the complete decline of a way of life, the kind of rural farming that the Common Agricultural Policy hasn’t managed to reach and protect. None of the loneliness or impoverished desperation is spared in what can feel a tad like punishment by the end. 

After the death of their parents, and with their grandfather’s illness and their brother’s listlessness, sisters Anna and Becky find themselves landed with the thankless task of looking after the remotest of farms in an area that can’t even sustain a local pub. The arrival of a foreigner with a nifty line in knitwear is a rare harkening of the potential of change but we’re never allowed to forget that times really are tough.   Continue reading “Review: Gundog, Royal Court”

2017 British Independent Film Awards nominations

Best British Independent Film
God’s Own Country
The Death of Stalin
I Am Not a Witch
Lady Macbeth
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Best Director
Rungano Nyoni – I Am Not a Witch
Armando Iannucci – The Death of Stalin
Francis Lee – God’s Own Country
Martin McDonagh – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
William Oldroyd – Lady Macbeth Continue reading “2017 British Independent Film Awards nominations”