Short Film Review #25

Mr John from Julian Kerridge on Vimeo.

Sometimes, it’s the smallest things that are most affecting and Julian Kerridge’s 2005 film debut Mr John is full of gorgeous, intimate details that make it a most charming prospect. Benedict Wong’s Mr John is an agoraphobic television critic but the arrival of a pretty upstairs neighbour, in the form of Nicola Stephenson’s Carol, forces him to look at the limits of his world anew. Their burgeoning relationship is a delight to behold – the gift of a casserole, a love for volcano documentaries, the re-organisation of a video collection – the quirky aspects of what makes her utterly adorable is perfectly played by Stephenson, the wry smile as she walks down the steps at the end enough to melt any heart. And Wong is appealingly nerdish as Mr John, initially disgruntled at the intrusion into his hermit-like existence but soon won over and willing to confront his greatest fear. Just lovely. Continue reading “Short Film Review #25”

Short Film Review #22

The opening section of Gavin Toomey’s Drop is just gorgeous – Russell Tovey’s bored security guard illuminated by the screens he’s barely watching, until his attention is drawn by a figure on edge of a rooftop. Roused from his stupor, Ben treks up to the top of the inner-city building and encounters Greg – their meeting is brief but significant, they’re two completely different people yet somehow connected and though Toomey’s screenplay cleverly leaves much unsaid, there’s something achingly gorgeous that still transpires. Tovey and Antony Edridge are both excellent and a string-laden soundtrack captures the elegiac mood perfectly. Continue reading “Short Film Review #22”

Review: Hero, Royal Court

“I don’t want us to look…naïve”

EV Crowe’s new play Hero sees her return to the Royal Court to be reunited with director Jeremy Herrin, but in this tale of two male primary school teachers – one gay and one straight – and the messages they convey both in the personal and the public sphere, everyone seems to have overstretched themselves considerably. The impossibly handsome Liam Garrigan plays Danny, in the midst of applying to adopt a child with husband Joe and seemingly unafraid of anything to do with his sexuality. Daniel May’s Jamie however, struggling to conceive with wife Lisa, reacts incredibly badly when one of his pupils calls him gay, setting in train a troubling chain of events and revelations that spiral wildly out of control. 

Everywhere, questionable decisions abound. The structure that folds back on itself at the beginning of the second act reveals nothing new in the replaying of the timeline and just muddies the narrative. The incredibly vivid image of the opening monologue is something that is never revisited, suggesting a real missed opportunity. The use of a Julie London record to signify doubts of a character’s sexuality feels as immature a choice as those exposed in the play and never, personally at least, felt justified by the writing itself. And funny lines are peppered throughout the script but appear at the most random of places, keeping the tone of the piece frequently off-kilter and repeatedly sacrificing the opportunity to explore issues with depth. Continue reading “Review: Hero, Royal Court”

Review: Moonlight, Donmar Warehouse

“You are the proper target for a cat’s derision”
 
Pinter has never really been one of those playwrights that has held much appeal for me, despite how well regarded he is. The only of his plays that I’ve ever seen is the Almeida’s production of The Homecoming but by and large, I’ve tended to avoid his work. But the Donmar is usually good value for money and always pull together stellar casts and so I duly booked for his 1993 play Moonlight, with Bijan Sheibani making his Donmar directorial debut, sneaking in for a £10 seat at the last preview. Little was I know that time could so slowly as it did here.
 
A ruminative meditation on a dysfunctional family, Moonlight focuses on the dying Andy and his estranged family: his emotionally distant wife Bel tends at his bedside, his two sons refuse to see him and verbally spar with each in a grubby bedsit and the ghostly presence of his daughter that haunts his house. In their own spheres, they all talk about the things they have lost, or rather talk around them, as it is clear that the breakdown in communication between that has caused the rifts, still persists and they are all unable to surmount it.

Continue reading “Review: Moonlight, Donmar Warehouse”