The Low Down

Drifting. Without much else to do, the estate agent (Ashfield) falls for the TV propmaker (Gillen)...

dir-scr Jamie Thraves
with Aidan Gillen, Kate Ashfield, Dean Lennox Kelly, Tobias Menzies, Rupert Proctor, Samantha Power, Dena Smiles, Maggie Lloyd Williams, Agnieszka Liggett
FilmFour 00/UK 1Ω out of 5 stars
Review by Rich Cline
Award-winning short film and music video director Thraves was obviously going for that Cassavettes-Godard vibe with The Low Down, a hand-held/improvised drama about London 20-somethings. Great idea ... if only there was a tiny bit of energy (emotional or otherwise) in it.

Frank (Gillen) makes props for TV shows with his two best friends; Mike (Kelly) has a serious girlfriend (Power) and is trying to make a go of the business, while John (Menzies) lounges around, sleeps in and is generally irresponsible. Frank decides he needs to leave his flatmate (Proctor) behind and buy his own apartment, so he goes to an estate agent (Ashfield) and promptly falls for her. Kind of. Frank dithers about virtually everything in his life ... as does everyone else. But he knows he must grow up soon.

The film's naturalistic, minimal feel would work if there was a bit more conviction in the characters, but each scene feels like the first take of an improvised camp sketch--nervous laughter, tentative dialog, awkward interaction. Despite the promising talent on display here, we wait in vain for characters to emerge from the low-key, freeform story. As the cast seem to struggle to locate the hearts of the characters, it feels like they're just making up dialog as they go, not like they're actually interacting with each other. There's no emotion or passion at all, leaving us bored at one pointless scene after another. With a bit more focus (and rehearsal?) this might have been a stunning little film.

[18--strong themes, language, brief nudity] 23.Oct.00 lff
UK release 26.Jan.01; US release 20.Apr.01

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© 2000 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall