Although it may have felt like something of a coup for writer/director Richard Bracewell to have bagged Richard E Grant for his sophomore effort, the reality is that Grant’s best years and work are long behind him. The recognition factor of his name may have helped attract funding for the film’s production and distribution, but that is only really to the director’s benefit, not ours. Grant gets one big monologue where he rambles on about US-based experiments, but as eloquent as it is it is wholly irrelevant to the film and only serves to draw attention to the short-comings of the rest of the screenplay.
Although the premise is an interesting one, albeit unoriginal in its entirety (jittery, nervy character may or not be losing her mind), the execution badly lets it down. As Polly, Fraser ably conveys anxiety, emotional distance, uncertainty and neurosis, but nothing here helps elicit sympathy. Although there is an element of idle curiosity as to whether she really is off her rocker, we don’t really care. The IMDb and publicity blurb suggest that this is a film about Julius’s obsession with Polly, however that is really only a tangiental point. Really, Polly’s fractured pysche is the focus, her dysfunctional relationships with her sister and boyfriend centre stage. The resolution or denoument comes pretty abruptly, but the final scenes lack any coherent logic in relation to the previous characterisation, leaving us feeling short-changed in terms of a believable arc for the characters and narrative.
Pacing is sadly very much at issue here as well. The story itself, as noted above, is not the problem. The problem is that there is a dearth of incident. Plenty of films take a long time to say very little, but nevertheless succeed artistically. This is not one of them. Scenes unfold successively with very little happening, the story is not advanced, no point is made and the characters do not progress. It is unfortunately all painfully dull.
The score was composed, arranged and conducted by Andrew Hewitt who points in the crew commentary to his main inspirations Bernard Hermann and Howard Shore’s work on The Silence of the Lambs. Certainly there are moments of tension and threat generated by jarring strings and these match well with the more convincing moments of Polly’s jittery nerviness, unfortunately it seems that the score is far and away the most compelling element of the film, which is never something you want to have said about your film.
Listening to the crew commentary (Bracewell and Hewitt are joined by producer Tony Bracewell and production designer Simon Scullion), they are clearly a group of decent, intelligent, earnest film-makers and artists. They evidently came to the film with genuine, sincere, laudable aspirations but sadly fell short on most counts. In a sense it is a shame to not have more that is positive to say of the film, given what it has attempted with so little in the way of funding and resources, however plenty of film-makers have managed far more, creatively and artistically on just as little.
Not a very good film then. If you feel like you want to see it anyway, you can buy or rent it here at LoveFilm.
DVD Extras: Crew commentary, trailer (which you can view below)