More Edinburgh Reviews

Huge

Ben Miller’s directorial debut, based on a play what he co-wrote, follows would-be stand up comedians Warren and Clark (Johnny Farrell and Noel Clarke) on the rocky road to fame.

It’s a bit of a mixed bag. After a nicely done meeting between the two (Clarke’s character heckles Farrell’s at an open mike slot, inadvertently giving him the only laughs he gets that night) there are some painfully plausible scenes of the two struggling to get their foot in the door of the capital’s comedy clubs. A host of real life stand ups cameo, some performing their own material, and you can have fun seeing how many you can name – many are familiar from TV, but others will be recognised only by those who frequent the live circuit.

Later scenes don’t feel so truthful. After the pair fall out, Clarke apparently becomes a minor celebrity as a chicken in a series of TV ads. How? Is this all he does? It’s not made clear. This seems to be an attempt to pull the rug from under the audience by first suggesting he’s become a star, before revealing he’s merely humiliating himself. It only confuses matters, and simply doesn’t work.

The real low point comes at the very end, with a series of images under the closing credits detailing teh duo’s future success ina way that brings to mind Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey. It’s a major misjudgement, frankly – there’s been nothing in the preceding 84 minutes to suggest they could ever be that good.

Outcast

Werewolf on a council estate movie that does a pretty good job of mixing social miserabilism with gore.

A tabloid newspaper clipping posted in the delegate centre played up the fact that Karen ‘Amy from off of Doctor Who’ Gillan was appearing in a raunchy, bloody film shot before her TV fame; an unnamed (and possibly fictitious ‘film insider’ claimed the BBC would never let her do it now. The film immediately shot to the top of my must-see list. In the event, she’s only in a couple of scenes, and shows less skin than James Nesbitt.

Kate Dickie stars as mother to Fergus, a teenager who is being hunted by his father. It sounds like the set up for a drama about domestic violence, but the macguffin is more supernatural in nature. There’s a pagan/traveller background to the characters that might be bollocks for all I know, but it feels like it’s been fully researched. This, and the straight faced performances from all the cast – Nesbitt has thankfully left his Cold Feet/Yellow Pages twinkly-eyed schtick at the door – keep the film tense and grounded in reality.

That said, some of the plot details are left a little vague. I’m not fully clear on why the beast is cursed in this way – I think an explanation was proffered, but was buried under someone’s accent.

The beast itself is a thoroughly nasty looking piece of work, and the effects are good enough to avoid the atmosphere being punctured. Though the film feels a little like Ken Loach’s Stephen King’s Sleepwalkers, the well-maintained mix of setting and subject make it very much its own beast.

Soulboy

Coming of age drama set in the early 70s, with a nostalgic soundtrack. Christ, another one? Yes, and it conforms pretty much to expectations (it starts with an ironic promotional film for Stoke on Trent that recalls the opening of The Full Monty). The USP is the setting, based as it is around the famous Wigan Casino nightclub. Our hero (Martin Compston) is introduced to the music and moves by the beautiful but spoken-for Nichola Burley. In his attempts to impress her, he fails to notice that his classmate’s sister (Felicity Jones) is smitten with him. Which girl will he end up with? You may have already guessed.

The recent failure of Cemetery Junction to make the expected box office impact may count against the possibility of Soul Boy seeing the inside of many cinemas. A shame, as it’s a solidly-written, well performed tale, albeit a predictable one. Soundtrack’s pretty good, too.

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