Monday, 26 November 2012

Black Pond

Black Pond tells the story of an ordinary family, The Thompsons. When a stranger dies at their dinner table they dispose of the body in the woods near the local pond. Six months later, family friend Tim seeks help from a freelance therapist Dr Eric Sacks and their secret finds its way to the press. The facts are bent and details spun as the course of justice commences on the family the media and public now call 'The Family of Killers'

Firstly Chris Langham, welcome back.

It's a very quirky and talented debut from former Casualty actor Will Sharpe and Tom Kingsley. The movie is small and low budget (a reported £25,000) but it belies such roots by stylish imaginative direction and theme with a lot of heart and existential meditation. 

The story itself is intriguing and to be honest quite believable and is played out in a mixture of documentary film 'talking heads' account and non linear storytelling. Langham plays and reflects the media's reaction to his own plight in a very brave way (To cut a long story short for those not in the know the former star of The Thick Of It was convicted for downloading child pornography in 2007 for, he claimed, research for a script he was writing, but won an appeal to cut his sentence and was told by the courts that he was not a paedophile. He is regardless something of a pariah in entertainment still) whilst proving he has lost none of his comedic skills when providing some genuine laugh out loud moments, or the ability to engage the audience when playing the more serious and fragile emotions. 

Naturally he brings a lot to the film (including the actual photo outside of court at his own trial in the newspaper cutting above) but it would be unfair to say he steals it, because that honour is shared primarily between him, Amanda Hadingue as his wife and Colin Hurley as the hapless Blake. That's not to say that the others in the cast are in any way poor - Anna O'Grady and Helen Cripps give truly great accounts of themselves as their daughters - it's just that when the story moves away from the central trio the audience can be forgiven for their attention wandering. Indeed, Will Sharpe's role as Tim in front of the camera seems equally listless, and only handy for the plot rather than actually contributing anything to the film as a whole dimensional person. It can also be argued that Simon Amstell as Dr Sacks is equally surplus and seems a little too large and comedic for such a small reflective piece. But I imagine fans of his comedy persona (of which I'm not alas) may enjoy it nonetheless. 

Colin Hurley - brilliant

Simon Amstell - less so

Although I like this very much, I do feel a tighter script and the merciless excising of some characters and moments reducing the film to an hour long 'short' may have created a minor masterpiece. But overall it is certainly an excellent and satisfying piece of entertainment.

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