Friday, 14 February 2014

Borrowed Time (2013)

Borrowed Time, London Film School graduate Jules Bishop's low budget indie debut, trades on 'Broken Britain' aesthetics but is actually something of an urban fairytale, more Sunday afternoon drama than Ill Manors. So it's something of a shame then that Bishop's script is littered with swear words, because at its heart, a film so devoid of cliche and cynicism like this, really ought to be a kids film and it would have worked better as such.

Bug eyed, big nosed Theo Barklem-Biggs is the chavvy simpleton coerced into burglary to settle debts he's been tricked into owing the black tracksuited Scouse nutjob Ninja Nigel (Warren Brown going totally OTT as a modern day panto villain) He picks the home of Phil Davis, the local eccentric curmudgeon and hobbying taxidermist and, despite the unusual and unorthodox meeting, the pair soon become friendly, with Davis passing down life lessons inbetween his Clint Eastwood impressions and near senility. In between the unlikely cross generational bonding sesh, Barklem-Biggs  attempts to dodge his foe whilst becoming reunited with his older long suffering sister (an impressive performance from Juliet Oldfield) and her young son, before going on to be a better man.

Davis is of course as ever eminently watchable and embellishes on the Steptoe role he had previously played for the BBC (Wilfred Brambell in The Curse Of Steptoe) to produce a largely unsentimental sage like old coot.

Borrowed Time is a film that ambles along with an easygoing low key charm amidst the drab and grimy East End locations, but the tone isn't always on an even keel; there's the aforementioned imbalance between the film's spirit and its X rated script, whilst Brown's played for laughs turn is sometimes hard and uncomfortable to tolerate against the more naturalistic performances - one suspects a more experienced director would ensure everyone was playing off the same page for the overall sake of the film. Meanwhile some casting is just plain odd; Perry Benson as a middle-class snob anyone? Just no.

By no means a great film and occasionally directionless, the film has some moments that will make you laugh and is inoffensive enough. Bishop may well be one to watch with future efforts.

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