Nasty Neighbours

Curtain-twitchers. Jean and Harold Peach (Bailey and Tomlinson) keep an eye on the new couple next door...
dir-scr Debbie Isitt
with Ricky Tomlinson, Marion Bailey, Phil Daniels, Rachel Fielding, Hywel Bennett, Gordon Coulson, Nick Whitfield, Debbie Isitt, Freda Barrett, Kenneth Hadley, Gregor Trutter, Geoff Dixon
00/UK 1 out of 5 stars
Review by Rich Cline
First-time filmmaker Isitt adapts her own play for the big screen, and I frankly wonder how it played on stage. Surely its farcical brand of black humour would be more suited to TV than film. Although even there the fact remains that this is a comedy without a single remotely funny moment in it.

Harold and Jean Peach (Tomlinson and Bailey) are devastated when their neighbours move to Australia. So they're naturally fascinated by the new occupants next door--the shifty and rude Robert and Ellen Chapman (Daniels and Fielding). But it doesn't take long before their new relationship descends into all-out war as Harold's job and Jean's mind begin to crumble.

Isitt uses black and white documentary inserts to frame the story, which is told with flashy camera work and editing, obvious song choices and garish comedy set design (everything seems drenched in cherry red). And while there are some intriguing themes gurgling under the surface--curtain-twitching curiosity, dead-end careers, community conflicts--none of it is touched upon with any insight or humour at all. The actors do their best with the cartoonish, wacky characters, but we never sympathise with anyone--they're all far too obnoxious and stupid. After awhile Isitt seems desperate to make us care about these selfish, twisted people ... but it's far too late for that. And then it gets worse. Unless you can laugh at pathetic losers, the film has no point at all. Excruciating.

[15--adult themes and situations, language, violence] 17.Oct.00
UK release 20.Oct.00

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Andy Parker, Manchester UK: "I've just seen it for the second time. I love it! Yes, it's not the best scripted film, but i find it funny even though i rarely laugh. Ricky Tomlinson and Phil Daniels are a perfect match and reminds me so much of real life conflicts between neighbours from different generations. I wish there were more quirky movies like this." (8.Mar.04)
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2000 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall