It’s hard not to admire guerilla style filmmaking, to learn of a filmmaker shooting discretely in public, perhaps even illegally, such is the commitment to storytelling, you manage to appreciate it nonetheless. It can, however, have an affect on the production value which is where this Mercedes Grower feature suffers. Though it’s hard to have too much sympathy on that front, as Sean Baker’s Tangerine looked incredible up on the big screen, and that was shot on iPhones.
The film begins with the credit ‘Part 2’, as we then watch on as several couples fall apart and effectively break up. From Elliot (Julian Barratt) taking a stand with Raymond (Oliver Maltman) to the destructive relationship coming to a halt between Daniel (Noel Fielding) and his pregnant partner Layla (Grower), as well as Livy (Julia Davis) finally becoming too much for Alan (Peter Wight) to handle. The latter half of the movie, entitled ‘Part One’ then regresses back, to seeing how the respective couples were first entwined, as we see how they went from the exciting, overwhelming feeling of new love, to the fed-up, irritable figures they cut later down the line.
One of the downsides of this structural approach is that it limits each relationship to having been relatively short term. As we’re showing two stages to each couple, and with a somewhat limited budget available, it’s not easy to portray these actors at very different times in their life, without that ability to move forward by a decade, for example. As a result it leaves the film lacking in variety as it would be interesting to see this concept used to how long-term partners could slowly lose that spark. That said, the film is emblematic of modern dating and the Tinder culture that exists, breeding much shorter, snappier relationships.
London plays a big part in this film too, represented well on screen as the viewer gets a flavour for the city, with so much of the varying stories taking place on rooftops as the capital’s famous skyline adorns the landscape. But the resourceful nature of Grower is commendable, it’s a film, much like the relationships it depicts, that lacks that something special. Well, aside from Kerry Fox – who steals the show with a nuanced and mesmerising cameo.
Brakes is released on November 24th.