R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E dir-scr Dan Reed
with Danny Dyer, Gillian Anderson, Anthony Calf, Francesca Fowler, Ralph Brown, Steven Robertson, Antony Byrne, Adam Rayner, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Neil Finnigan, Kate Bunten, Ewan Stewart
release UK 27.Apr.07
07/UK FilmFour 1h29

Dance with me: Anderson and Dyer

dyer anderson
Straightheads Violent and unsettling, this revenge drama works its way under our skin through the sheer visceral horror of the story. Although in the end it's hard to see the point.

Alice (Anderson) is a high-powered London businesswoman, flirting shamelessly with Adam (Dyer), who's come to her flat to install a state-of-the-art security system. She invites him to be her escort to a party in the country, but on the way home they have a horrific encounter with three local men (Calf, Brown and Robertson). Months later they're still struggling to recover from their physical and emotional wounds when a fluke encounter sparks thoughts of brutal vengeance.

This rather enormous and unlikely coincidence slightly throws us out of the story, as does the massive transformation that takes place within each character. These things are far too contrived, and we only stick with the film because the performances are so passionately committed. Anderson and Dyer are fiercely focussed in their roles, nicely transitioning from the breezy, funny, sexy opening scenes into the raw emotion and then the much more harrowing suspense of what follows.

Dyer is especially good, as always, at bringing his jittery humanity into the role--a sense of black humour that makes his character feel engagingly authentic. And the chemistry between him and Anderson is thoroughly believable, from the initial spark of attraction to dangerous noir-style co-dependence. While we do get to know a few of the side characters, the film is tightly centred on this unlikely couple and the journey they take into the abyss.

Writer-director Reed films this with an assured hand, ruthlessly editing the story so it snaps and jumps forward, throwing the characters from one grisly or awkward situation into another. As it progresses towards an unhinged eye-for-an-eye climax, we really don't want to watch what happens. But we can't turn away. He seems to be trying to make a point about how far people can be pushed (and coaxed) over the edge, but it's not terribly convincing. In the end, the film feels like an experiment in suspense and violence that doesn't actually tell us anything at all. Intriguing but deeply unnecessary.

cert 18 themes, strong violence, language, sexuality 11.Jan.07

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2007 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall