Film Review: The Happy Prince

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Director: Rupert Everett

15 | 1h 45min | Drama, History | 15 June 2018 (UK)

RATING: ★★★☆☆

I know very little about the famous writer, socialite and wit-bomb dropper Oscar Wilde, beyond the basic rise-and-fall arc of his life that takes in his rise to fame in Britain as the mind behind The Picture of Dorian Grey and The Importance of Being Earnest, through to imprisonment and social outcast status following his outing as gay. That being said, writer/director Rupert Everett's focus in The Happy Prince is on what happened after the fall, and taking a biopic into that space interested me. Perhaps unsurprisingly for an actor who has played Wilde several times on stage and screen, Everett does a fine job of presenting us with a tragically compelling Wilde who is impoverished and stricken by ill health, destitute in exile in Paris and Naples with nothing but a few street urchins to drink with and reflections on his period of success in London during the 1880s and 90s to sustain him.

Assisted by prosthetics, Everett gives us an alarmingly flabby, woozy and bedraggled figure who's remaining reserves of humour are like the last fumes of jet fuel in a plane about to crash, though flashbacks messily scattered into the narrative allow us to see a bit of the man in his prime. He more than adequate transmits the sense of a fallen icon see-sawing now between preening, panicking, and self-destructive 'fuck it' moments; and all the more tragic for it. Just occasionally, some of the magnificence of past glories shines through, but it is a ruined magnificence now. For all Wilde's still-powerful wit, this is a figure chronically dependent on the charity of friends but too self-absorbed to fully appreciate it, and too proud and reckless to make enough effort to get himself out of the hole of debt and booze. We see that, before his darkest hour arrived, he had resumed the destructive relationship with the snobby and duplicitous Bosie (Colin Morgan), which caused the termination of the tiny allowance from his humiliated ex-wife Constance (Emily Watson) and also endangered Bosie’s own income, leaving them nothing to live on. He also eventually resorts to the kind of fraudulent behaviour he used to savage others for: selling an unwritten play to three separate financial backers to keep destitution from the door.

The unflattering nature of this depiction of Wilde's fall, and the fact there was enough emotional heft in the on-screen relationships to appeal to viewers like myself without too much knowledge of the real-life story, won my respect, as did the film's willingness to acknowledge the pain Wilde caused his wife, herself in poor health, as well as the touching but imbalanced affection between Wilde and his devoted friend and lover Robbie (Edwin Thomas), one of the few companions to stick by him to the sad end. What the film lacks in giving us compelling theses about Wilde's talent and motivations it makes up for in Everett's passionate and poignant performance as a deeply human and flawed artist in decay. He was aiming for the stars, but ended up in the gutter after all.

Comment

Owen Van Spall

Greetings. I am a Film History MA graduate from Birkbeck University of London and a trained NCTJ qualified journalist. Apart from a long history of film and news writing for this site and various other publications, I am also a trained photographer with my own camera kit. I write mostly every day. Along the way I have picked up work experience at Sight & Sound, The Guardian, The Independent, The FT, The New Statesman, and more. I have written hard news stories, features, arranged and conducted interviews with celebrities, film directors and other major cultural figures, arranged photo shoots, and covered film festivals, conferences and events in the UK and abroad. If you wish to commission me or enquire about full-time opportunities please find my CV and contact details below. A physical portfolio of print only cuttings can also be provided.

Film Review: Hereditary

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Director: Ari Aster

15 | 2h 7min | Drama, Horror, Mystery | 15 June 2018 (UK)

Rating: ★★★★☆

Star Toni Collette is superb in director Ari Aster’s Sundance horror sensation Hereditary. The film burst out of the US festival earlier this year with the kind of favourable buzz that eased the way for The Babadook and Get Out. Comparisons to The Babadook are particularly understandable given both films centre on an unstable female protagonist who is an unreliable narrator (as well as parent), but the comparisons can be overdone. I personally found Aster’s film incredibly unsettling, one of the closest approximations to the kind of nightmares I've had that I have seen on film recently. The night terrors that have lurked in my memory are those where I wasn’t sure where the real world ended and the supernatural took over, and where waking up resulted in a flash-moment where dreamscape and the real world overlapped. Watching Hereditary recalled that to a certain extent. Those going into Hereditary should be warned that not only is this flick not entirely similar to The Babadook but the marketing materials for the film - particularly the posters that feature a miniature house lit spookily from within - might create the wrong kind of expectations. Nor is it really helpful to call this ‘the next Exorcist’. Rest assured though, despite a two-hour run time that suggests a slow-burner, the film will make you jump. You will never think about tongue clicks in the same way.

What about those weird miniature houses though? Well, they are naturally a handy metaphor for how we can be shrunk down to irrelevant size by the loss of control, and the vulnerability of a family unit to menacing forces peering in from outside.  Aster actually opens the film with a striking zoom onto what appears to be a miniature of a bedroom, only for the entrance of a character into the room to break the spell and reveal this is a real place. But the miniatures are also fascinating, real objects within the film; the life work of Toni Collette’s character. Collette plays Annie Graham, an American artist who is famed for creating miniaturist houses, which mostly are based on scenes from her own life; tiny lit rooms with Lilliputian human figures, fixtures and fittings all fabricated with a frankly eerie level of detail and care (there is a real-life American artist Narcissa Thorne who’s work is similar, and she may be an inspiration). It is, of course, tempting to read into this a form of deep-rooted control freakery or some kind of pathology (or curse?), and given that when we first see Annie when she is giving a very bleak reading at her mother’s funeral, we also start to sense that the Grahams might be a family with deep roots of damage. Annie’s mother, we learn, was elderly, secretive and abusive, and only died after years of dementia. Right away, we wonder how this mysterious matriarch affected not just Annie, but her steady-the-ship husband Steve (Gabriel Byrne) and their teen children Peter (Alex Wolff) and Charlie (Milly Shapiro). As Annie hisses through her teeth during the funeral, her grandma insisted on taking Charlie under her wing, and even though she is dead, she fear her ‘hooks’ are still in her child.

It is difficult to talk about what happens over the next two hours without spoiling, but suffice it to say that Aster crafts the downfall of the Graham family, and reveals the shadow they live under, with real craftsmanship. It really starts with loner teenage granddaughter Charlie (a great performance from Milly Shapiro, who has fascinating gaze that really conveys the sense of seeing something beyond), who starts catching visions of her grandmother outside her school, before graduating on to dissecting animals and unsettling her family with strange, sudden tongue clicks. Then a truly gruesome and bizarre tragedy strikes, and the domestic turmoil this unleashed is so effectively conveyed by the cast, particularly Collette, that Hereditary could actually have just stopped right there with the supernatural elements and carried on as a great character study of grief. One dinner scene, conducted in the family’s gloomily-lit and oddly doll-like house (the rooms just feel too neat to seem lived in), sees Collette’s character escalate to such a frightening level of savage accusation that the film reaches an almost hysterical pitch of unease. This happens many other times, with Annie’s uncontrollable outbursts against her hapless son Peter (Alex Wolff really nails the look of a person exhausted by the process of falling apart), who was involved in the aforementioned tragedy and thus has twisted the family’s response to it even more, revealing such deeply-buried and unspeakable truths that you night find yourself emitting a guffaw of shock. This grounding really helps the film, as few things are more terrifying that seeing bad things happen to believably frail people.

But it is not over for the Grahams, not by a long shot. Aster’s script, the production design, editing and a precise nerve-jangling score from Colin Stetson all work in slick tandem to ratchet up the feeling of delirious dread as the family members increasingly isolate themselves, and thus fall further prey to the forces trying to get at them. I particularly liked the film’s trick of snapping from day or night in exterior shots in a single beat, like switching the lights in a doll’s house on or off with a switch. Grace Yun’s production design and Pawel Pogorzelski’s cinematography for the outdoor scenes make the Graham residence look like another miniature house in a totally isolated space, cut off from any help, which is complimented by the aforementioned square-on compositions that make the interiors look uncannily like replicas with live occupants. Interspersed with all this are a few jump scares so well-constructed that it overrides the fact some are straight out of the oldest playbook in existence. By the time you get to the WTF ending (which, despite my ambiguous feelings about it, doesn’t diminish my appreciation), you will probably be wanting to steer clear of doll’s houses for a good few months.

Comment

Owen Van Spall

Greetings. I am a Film History MA graduate from Birkbeck University of London and a trained NCTJ qualified journalist. Apart from a long history of film and news writing for this site and various other publications, I am also a trained photographer with my own camera kit. I write mostly every day. Along the way I have picked up work experience at Sight & Sound, The Guardian, The Independent, The FT, The New Statesman, and more. I have written hard news stories, features, arranged and conducted interviews with celebrities, film directors and other major cultural figures, arranged photo shoots, and covered film festivals, conferences and events in the UK and abroad. If you wish to commission me or enquire about full-time opportunities please find my CV and contact details below. A physical portfolio of print only cuttings can also be provided.

Film Review: Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

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Director: J.A. Bayona

12A | 2h 8min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi | 6 June 2018 (UK)

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Like the very genetically engineered dinosaurs that populate the plots, the Jurassic Park series refuses to bow to extinction, returning with a follow-up to 2015’s smash-hit, franchise-restarter Jurassic World. Colin Trevorrow has bowed out of direction duties in favour of J.A Bayona (The Impossible), but Jurassic World’s main duo of Raptor trainer Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) and former Park Director Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) are back for another session of gawping at CGI creations off-screen left, and running away from pursuing monsters towards camera. Sadly, although this film’s tag line is “Life Finds a Way”, what definitely got lost along the way was a decent screenplay (writers Colin Trevorrow and Derek Connolly), let alone any sense of the majesty and wonder of the original 1993 Spielberg movie. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is so riddled with logic gaps, dumb character decisions and simple confusion about how we should view the entire conceit, that the actual genetic recreation of dinosaurs from 65 million years ago starts looking believable in comparison.

The film opens some four years since theme park and luxury resort Jurassic World was destroyed by the dinosaurs breaking out of containment (again). Given the amount of time that has passed, it actually seems, finally, corporate humanity has accepted that opening a theme park based on genetically-recreated dinosaurs might not be a good idea. And in case we were still in any doubt, we see a short scene in the film’s opening minutes where Jurassic Park survivor, chaotician, and legendary ladies’ man Dr Ian Malcolm (original star Jeff Goldblum) addresses a US Senate Committee who are debating whether or not to evacuate some of the dinosaurs to spare them from an impending volcano that is erupting on the island. Malcolm’s advice: Do not go back to the island. Do not try to rescue these dinosaurs. Bringing any of them back to the US, or putting them anywhere ‘secure’, is a bad idea. It sounds cruel, but one of the problems Jurassic World never conquers is the confusion it displays over whether we should align with Malcolm’s idea or not. Frankly at this point, with the last movie seeing a death toll reach hundreds, it feels hard to argue with the guy, not least when he describes the terrible implications of genetic engineering in terms that seem to link it to the instability of the Trump era.

Yet accepting Malcolm’s arguments would mean, of course, ending the franchise. Thus Owen and Claire, who barely survived the last movie, end up looking both reckless and of questionable intelligence by being won over in about five minutes into going back to the island as part of a covert corporate campaign run by JP founder John Hammond’s former partner Lockwood (James Cromwell) and his slimy executive Eli Mills (Rafe Spall with villain haircut) to rescue the remaining dinosaurs from the extinction-level event and bring them to a new sanctuary. Owen is driven to find Blue, his lead raptor who's still missing in the wild, and Claire has grown a respect for these creatures she now makes her mission, even if they nearly killed her about a dozen times. That this mission doesn’t have the approval of either the US or Costa Rican governments (the Costa Ricans, who presumably have jurisdiction over Isla Nublar given it was only leased by Hammond, are never even mentioned) and therefore might land them in jail, doesn’t come up. Nor do they ever guess it might be a corporate double-cross, which, of course, it is. How a huge number of quite large dinosaurs could be shipped around the world with no one noticing is not explained either, although admittedly at this point in the franchise it is hard to say which company or persons really owns these animals and where the line between corporate and government authority ends and begins.

Necessary plot moves made, we are whisked back to Isla Nublar, which now sits abandoned by humans while the surviving dinosaurs fend for themselves in the jungles. The island's dormant volcano is already roaring to life, which creates a ticking clock. But already by now my interest in this film was flagging, with the rehashed prodding-annoyed dynamics between Claire and Owen offering nothing fresh and new characters Zia and Franklin feeling rote and underwritten (they are, of course, the useful medic and hacker types). I found myself watching these characters crawl through the ruins of the old Jurassic Park/World and thinking about how this serves as an unintentional metaphor for how Fallen Kingdom is treading over the bones of better iterations of this franchise. Though Bayona occasionally slows the film down to let the characters marvel at a huge dinosaur passing through, the thrill and majesty of seeing Spielberg use modern CGI to recreate extinct animals is a hard trick to repeat (Spielberg’s film really did land at the right time, showcasing the technological hurdles that had fallen thanks to digital, as much as the animals themselves). Given cloned dinosaurs have been a reality in this world now for years, it is difficult to believe anyone WOULD be gawping any more anyway. And when the action moves off the island towards a confrontation that could see the dinosaurs escape into the populated world (something the franchise has always held, as in the Alien series, as a final barrier that must be kept up) we are back dealing with mutated dinosaurs as the main threat again, which begs the question if these are even dinosaurs anymore? And why, in a world of cruise missiles and satellites, would non-bulletproof and intellectually-inferior mutant dinosaurs be in any way a worthwhile military-focused project? 

Bayona no doubt hoped seeing the dinosaurs in an incongruous setting (charging through the corridors and glass roof of a rural mansion) would refresh the franchise’s standard playbook of run-and-hide, but the oomph of last act near-escapes is constantly being undercut by the lazy screenplay, one that sees supposedly experienced military figures actually climb into cages of dinosaurs that they have been told are lethal, and even resorts to the cheap trick of passing off the most egregious bad decisions - the really dumb ones that have to be made in order to get the franchise to the next instalment - onto younger and more naive characters. How the kingdom of Jurassic Park has fallen.

Comment

Owen Van Spall

Greetings. I am a Film History MA graduate from Birkbeck University of London and a trained NCTJ qualified journalist. Apart from a long history of film and news writing for this site and various other publications, I am also a trained photographer with my own camera kit. I write mostly every day. Along the way I have picked up work experience at Sight & Sound, The Guardian, The Independent, The FT, The New Statesman, and more. I have written hard news stories, features, arranged and conducted interviews with celebrities, film directors and other major cultural figures, arranged photo shoots, and covered film festivals, conferences and events in the UK and abroad. If you wish to commission me or enquire about full-time opportunities please find my CV and contact details below. A physical portfolio of print only cuttings can also be provided.

Sundance London Film Festival 2018 Review: First Reformed

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Director: Paul Schrader

R | 1h 53min | Drama, Thriller | 13 July 2018 (UK)

Rating: ★★★★☆

Playing Sundance London 2018

Ethan Hawke cuts a looming, flinty-eyed and tormented figure as a disillusioned and possibly unstable upstate New York Reverend, in Paul Schrader’s austere but ultimately mesmerising character study. First Reformed, which refers to the name of a church in the film whilst obviously also lending itself to other interpretations, doesn’t attempt to hide its debt to Schrader’s acclaimed screenplays the likes of Taxi Driver and Raging Bull. Beyond being another study of another of ‘god’s lonely men’, of the narcissism of those who feel they are the only ones who can sense and purge the sickness running amok in the world, this film even mimics certain shots from Taxi Driver in ways anyone beyond vaguely familiar with that Scorsese/DeNiro milestone will recognise right away. Thanks to Hawke’s commanding soul-in-torment performance, striking cinematography and production design, and a different setting which allows for connections to more modern concerns about radicalisation, First Reformed ends up being a satisfying meditative echo rather than a simple replay of Schrader greats. I have heard also that there is much love for Bresson laced throughout the work, but I’ve not seen the film many are pointing to.

A grizzled and taut Ethan Hawke (who it is tempting to think was cast so we would cringe at how far young Jessie from Before Sunrise has come) plays the ominously-named Father Toller, a late 40s divorcee literally living out the meaning of his name in an upstate New York Dutch colonial-style church called First Reformed. Like DeNiro’s disturbed loner from Taxi Driver, Travis Bickle, Toller finds little to no sleep at night, and keeps a daily diary which we hear in voiceover. That voiceover, scattered with biblical references and unending lists of daily slights, reveals a man unable to follow the same homilies he dispenses to his much-reduced flock. “Wisdom,” Toller tells one young man who calls on him, “is holding two contradictory truths in our minds simultaneously.” Yet Toller, burning through a bottle of whiskey a night with a Pepto-Bismol chaser to conclude, is not able to perform the same mental gymnastics that we all do on a daily basis to get past such competing truths and carry on, such as accepting we are going to die yet knowing that that the law says that doesn’t give us license to act like we are unleashed from any responsibility. Or knowing that despite being given evidence of the dire state of the world and our own personal circumstances, it could also be true that things could get better tomorrow. We all, usually, find ways to compromise and carry on. But, bitter at the fact that the church he oversees attracts fewer and fewer followers, resentful of the timidity with which the pastor of the larger, corporate-backed church that owns First Reformed displays when he starts nudging towards speaking on political issues, and frustrated by the unyielding extremist positions that his young church group volunteers take, Toller is a man slowly twisting himself further and further inwards at the sense of his own uselessness. And people like that, both the movies and real life tell us, can explode outwards.

Schrader seems to take a perverse delight in taking us through the daily indignities that Toller perceives as his day-to-day fate. Pastor Jeffers (Cedric Kyles, also known as Cedric the Entertainer) over at the parent church Abundant Life, a modern megachurch par excellence, insults him when he chides Toller for not living in the real world. “You’re always in the garden, even Jesus got out of the garden”, he tries to joke with the stony-faced reverend. When dining in the cafeteria of Abundant Life, Toller is surrounded by wall-mounted quotes from the scriptures that, thanks to the garish design and bizarrely large fonts, end up looking like tacky corporate advertising. The industrialist who bankrolls Abundant Life is a total asshole promotes anti-climate change myths and who clearly wants no political involvement from the ministers. Visitors to the First Reformed, when it is open for weekend tours, seem more interested in getting the right size of tee in the gift shop than in the fact that it is due to celebrate its 250th anniversary. It seems Toller might be doomed to endure death by a thousand cuts for eternity, but an inciting incident fires something up inside him. Though unable to prevent the suicide of a local eco-activist (a convincing display of desperation from actor Philip Ettinger) who called on him in despair the week before, Toller seems to absorb wholesale his statistic-laden diatribes about corporate malfeasance and political corruption ensuring certain global doom. Here, it seems, is something he can grasp on to; an identifiable nexus point where a politically ignorant and corporate-dominated church is failing to rise to a basic challenge: “will God forgive us for what we do?”

However, even as Hawke’s character starts down a disturbing path in order to shake the church and the wider world awake, one that engages fully with the modern reality of how the internet can provide all the material a budding extremist needs to affirm their beliefs (austere figure he may be, but Toller maintains a nifty laptop and solid broadband), Schrader keeps his motives interestingly ambiguous. For a man of the cloth, Toller seems to be growing worryingly close to the activist’s widow (Amanda Seyfreid, good, but underused). Is it worth pointing out that the widow is with child and that her name is Mary, too? Is it a sexual attraction? Then there is the fact that this man is booze-addled much of the time, and his stubborn refusal to heed Jeffers’s advice to get his deteriorating health checked out raises the possibility of a refusal to face a wasting illness. His son is revealed to have died in the second Iraq War also; a pointless death in an unjust war. All of these nuggets of backstory and behaviour challenge the purity of his new-found environmental drive, in much the same way many have theorised that Travis Bickle’s ‘manifesto’ and onscreen actions in Taxi Driver could in fact be a delusion linked to PTSD resulting from his Vietnam War service (assuming, of course, that he did serve as he declared).

Though it eventually arrives at a place of what I can only call transcendental madness, Schrader’s film mostly betrays a suitably severe aesthetic. The film is shot in an ‘older’ 4:3 Academy ratio, which makes everything looked hemmed in and tense. The First Reformed Church in Snowbridge, upstate New York is a stern, looming 18th-century box of white wood with a steeple raised to a heaven offering no answers. Toller’s room inside has little furniture, and looks hardly changed from decades ago. The effect is to make the Reverend look like he’d be more at home in the actual time period the church was built, free of the compromises a global economy demands.  The world outside offers no cheer, being one of permanently grey skies and spidery trees. Schrader’s film, unless you interpret the loopy ending in a very positive way, offers no cheer or clear answers either, being both a savage takedown of modern Catholicism whilst also suggesting it might have a role to play, a critique of environmental pollution but a warning against extremist activism too. But what is does offer is plenty of food for thought, and one of Ethan Hawke’s best performances.

Comment

Owen Van Spall

Greetings. I am a Film History MA graduate from Birkbeck University of London and a trained NCTJ qualified journalist. Apart from a long history of film and news writing for this site and various other publications, I am also a trained photographer with my own camera kit. I write mostly every day. Along the way I have picked up work experience at Sight & Sound, The Guardian, The Independent, The FT, The New Statesman, and more. I have written hard news stories, features, arranged and conducted interviews with celebrities, film directors and other major cultural figures, arranged photo shoots, and covered film festivals, conferences and events in the UK and abroad. If you wish to commission me or enquire about full-time opportunities please find my CV and contact details below. A physical portfolio of print only cuttings can also be provided.

Sundance London Film Festival 2018 Review: Never Goin’ Back

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Director: Augustine Frizzell

R | 1h 25min | Drama | 3 August 2018 (USA, UK date TBC)

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Playing Sundance London 2018

Buzzed BFFs are the order of the day in writer/director Augustine Frizzell’s scrappy, uneven, but ultimately winning debut feature. It is a film that is sustained by the irresistible, irrepressible duo at its heart, and by the appeal of seeing the typical stoner bro movie repurposed for the female perspective. Females who are determined to not give an inch, shamelessly thrown various narcotics down their throats or up their noses, take enemies off at the knees with volleys of profanity, and remain sweetly committed to each other throughout.

Once their alarm clock blazes one muggy morning, things start going wrong pretty quickly for BFFs Angela (Maia Mitchell) and Jessie (Cami Morrone).  These two late-teen high school dropouts, so breadline they have to share a bed in Jessie’s intellectually-challenged jock brother’s scabby suburban Dallas apartment, finally seem to have a chance to catch a break from their dead-end waitressing jobs in the same crappy diner. With childish glee, Angela drops the surprise on a sleepy and disbelieving Jessie that their dream vacation to sunny Galveston, Texas, is ON. In fact, it is only a few shifts away. Angela has booked them a beach cabin, and got a great discount online. The catch? She used up their rent money to pay for it, trusting their bosses’ word that enough shifts will be there to beforehand cover the advance payment. Right away, alarm bells are ringing in our heads. When a movie character assumes money will be there, chances are fate is going to take a different view. Angela and Jessie have a believable argument about how irresponsible this is, but actress Maia Mitchell really invests Jessie with so much charm you can imagine wilting under her enthusiasm. Cami Morrone’s character comes off in the first act as the slightly more responsible of the two (Jessie is really not convinced this beach idea is a good one, but gives in), but Frizzell’s script never simplifies this relationship to an enabler/manipulated dynamic even as a shopping list of darkly funny, twisted disasters spin out of this one decision by Angela to cut loose.

And boy do things go wrong. Jessie probably should have guessed that that business venture her brother Brandon (Kyle Mooney) was babbling about was, in fact, an attempt to set up a drug deal. The deal resulted in a hold-up, which meant Brandon’s own share of the rent has gone bye-bye. Then their apartment gets invaded in a hilariously chaotic scene by one of Brandon’s own dimwitted ‘crew’ who wants his share of the fronted cash back, which results in cops searching the place, only to find Jessie and Angela’s somewhat substantial supply of the good stuff strewn all over their room—and they have to serve a short stint in juvenile detention. With two days worth of shifts at work due to be missed, their beach trip is in serious jeopardy and they’ll have to use every bit of guile to make the rent money back. A ‘get the cash in 24 hours’ plot is now seriously underway, but what makes Jessie and Angela’s mini-adventure so alternately funny and actually quite tense is the fact that their plans run parallel with them getting continuously buzzed, which doesn’t result in quite the mindset you need to make some money quickly…and legally. You keep wondering which of them is going to accept that casual party invite, drop a tab of something they shouldn’t, or lose their temper at just the moment things are looking up so everything goes to hell just when a path to salvation was about to open up. Jessie and Angela are their own worst enemies, but their affection for each other and their sugary/savage take on the world makes them kind of hard to dislike even as they walk towards every landmine in their path.

Frizzell’s film isn’t perfect by any means. You can see more than a few of the car crashes Jessie and Angela get into coming from way off, with some gags being set up way in advance and then playing out exactly as you might expect (one involving the downside of keeping your stools …upside for too long). Some of the characters, particularly those in Brandon’s posse, are fairly standard doofuses who act as you’d expect. Frizzell’s script and the production design show a keen eye for the realities of living one pay check away from disaster in a state and country without a great social security or minimum wage safety net, and this might seem to rub awkwardly against the increasingly zany plot developments as the film goes on, but I actually found this not to be a problem given this story is being told from the perspectives of two women who are stoned to hell by various drugs much of the time and who are sustained both by their own relationship and their DGAF attitude. I personally can’t wait to see what Frizeell and co-stars Mitchell and Morrone do next.

Comment

Owen Van Spall

Greetings. I am a Film History MA graduate from Birkbeck University of London and a trained NCTJ qualified journalist. Apart from a long history of film and news writing for this site and various other publications, I am also a trained photographer with my own camera kit. I write mostly every day. Along the way I have picked up work experience at Sight & Sound, The Guardian, The Independent, The FT, The New Statesman, and more. I have written hard news stories, features, arranged and conducted interviews with celebrities, film directors and other major cultural figures, arranged photo shoots, and covered film festivals, conferences and events in the UK and abroad. If you wish to commission me or enquire about full-time opportunities please find my CV and contact details below. A physical portfolio of print only cuttings can also be provided.