Thursday, 30 April 2015

A Boy Called Dad (2009)

A Boy Called Dad is a well intentioned but somewhat disappointing 2009 film was the feature debut of director Brian Percival who went on to helm 2013's The Book Thief.

From a script by Julie Rutterford (who he had previously teamed up with for the Bafta winning 2001 short About a Girl) A Boy Called Dad stars Ian Hart as feckless painter and decorator Joe, who walked out of the Wirral home he shared with his wife (Louise Delamere) and son Robbie when the latter was just four years old. Fast forward 10 years and Robbie played by newcomer Kyle Ward - for whom this is, so far, his sole credit - is a 14-year-old who having got a girl from school (The Mill's Sacha Parkinson) pregnant during a fumble in a bus shelter has just become a father himself. 

Father and son haven’t seen each other in a decade, but Robbie immediately recognises his dad during a chance encounter one day from family photos. It is the humour and awkwardness displayed between Hart and Ward as both fumble towards a relationship with one another in those early scenes that deliver the film its sharpness and warmth as well as its message about broken families and having a child too soon.  But it soon becomes apparent that the film has a problem, it believes it needs to go somewhere and unfortunately - maybe as a desire to write something suitably big for the big screen – where it goes is to the wild and outlandish with Robbie rescuing his baby from the gymslip mum's thuggish new fella and going on the run with it to Wales. The main failing here is that the film is robbed of Hart's presence. It's a real shame the production didn't have the nerve to stick with their uneasy relationship and the social message it hopes to convey because if it did it might have just been something comparable to Ken Loach.

Overall, this is a suitably gritty but largely melodramatic contemporary British drama that runs to just 75 minutes. As a result I can't help but feel it might have worked a bit better as a made for TV - indeed, with some excising of foul language and sex scenes/references to knock it down to 60 minutes say this would easily fit into the BBC's afternoon series of Merseyside filmed dramas Moving On.

If there's a reason to watch A Boy Called Dad it's the acting which is impossible to fault, and of course, chiefly that of Ian Hart; time spent watching Hart is never truly time wasted.

Out On Blue Six : Marti Webb

End Transmission

England Expects (2004)

The shadow of Alan Clarke's seminal films The Firm and Made In Britain loom large over England Expects, a hard hitting 2004 BBC drama  about racism from the pen of Frank Deasy. It's a shadow that is perhaps unsurprising when you consider that producer Ruth Caleb had won the award for Creative Contribution to TV given in Clarke's name just three years prior to this film's broadcast.

Like Clarke's best work, England Expects takes the temperature of the nation at the time. The early 00s were a hotbed of racial tension with riots in Bradford and Oldham and a growing post 9/11 suspicion, hatred and demonisation of Islam which extremist political parties like Nick Griffin's BNP milked for all its worth as a propaganda tool. This previously considered lunatic fringe organisation of violent hooligans, neo Nazis and racist thugs began to hoover up votes in the deprived and disadvantaged working class areas of the UK, wrestling their traditional political sympathies from the incumbent Labour party - a government such frightened and angry residents no longer believed represented their interests - and bringing them perilously close to the mainstream.

Steven Mackintosh delivers a strong and compelling performance as Ray Knight, a security guard at the trading floor of London's Canary Wharf,  whose life begins to spiral out of control following a series of family problems, ultimately drawing him back to his violent, far right past.

The first cracks in his rigid controlled existence starts to appear when his ex wife and daughter (Camille Coduri and Sadie Thompson) are refused a flat on a new estate. Angry that they have to remain in their ill equipped slum housing, Ray begins to notice that much of the flats on the new estate seem to be going to Asian families - though in his far right paranoia he naturally chooses to ignore that these families lived in the same slum flats as his former wife and teenage daughter do, or that they're specifically being rehoused in flats and houses with five-six bedrooms, abodes which are just too big for his own estranged families circumstances.  His sense of frustration gains a sympathetic ear from an old friend and arch manipulator played by Keith Barron who is effectively the head of a BNP like party hoping to put a candidate forward for the local council elections and promises to do all he can to highlight what they perceive to be the unfair practices of the housing association via the local media and their own political campaign. 

Ray's world further disintegrates when he discovers that his beloved daughter Nikki is involved with the wrong, predominantly Asian, crowd and is using heroin. Lastly, he develops a sexual obsession with Alison (Susan Vidler) one of the traders at work who's colleague and boyfriend just happens to be Jewish.

All these things bubble up and boil over, putting Ray back on the path of violence with disastrous consequences. 

Unfortunately I think the film overeggs the pudding a little and ultimately gets a little too melodramatic in places, especially in its final stages. I'm also not convinced at all that it needed the subplot with Susan Vidler, as I don't feel it adds anything to the story and just muddies the intentions elsewhere. It is at its best when exploring the Machiavellian like nature of these far right organisations and how, those members in the public eye ensure they keep their hands clean by using the younger generation to do their dirty work by spoonfeeding them just the right amount of vitriol and sense of unfairness. In many ways it's a practice not too dissimilar to the hate clerics who convince young people to become suicide bombers that so often fuel their argument for 'keeping Britain white'. England Expects shows us how these racists have become more intelligent and more media savvy through the years, using and manipulating racial tension to highlight their cause. Barron's character discusses the days when he would campaign door to door flanked by football hooligans to be met with spit and flying bottles and bricks, but now he's the respectable face of a 'mainstream' political party. At the time of broadcast the BNP was  'evolving' in exactly the same way and the fear was they would gain a foothold in our democracy. Thankfully that proved not to be the case, but have they really gone away or have they just got more media savvy and morphed into the equally threatening UKIP? 

Equally the film benefits greatly from a great central performance from Mackintosh who, in donning a deeply unfashionable 'tache, puts us in mind for better or worse of Gary Oldman's Bex from The Firm. It's a performance of lethal, barely suppressed anger as Ray edges towards breaking point and a complete breakdown. The scary or accurate thing is Deasy presents a man who is, despite his abhorrent views, surprisingly easy to relate  to - he just wants the best for his daughter and wants her kept from harm. It's how he ultimately goes about this though that is totally inexcusable and the irony being that, in trying to keep and protect all he holds dear, he is actually moving further and further away from it and allowing it to slip through his fingers.

The film is available to watch on YouTube though be advised to ignore the comments below it as its full of the usual 'blah blah blah typical left wing woolly liberal propaganda blah blah blah....'

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Out On Blue Six : Outfit

Just heard this as part of 6 Music's rebel playlist on Rad Mac. Brilliant stuff

End Transmission

RIP Keith Harris

Anyone who grew up in the 80s will be feeling a little sad today at the news that ventriloquist Keith Harris has died of cancer at the age of 67.

Harris was famous for his act with Orville the duck and even had a top 10 hit with the song I Wish I Could Fly back in 1982, as well as gaining the royal seal of approval and performing one to one for Prince William and later Prince Harry's birthdays.

RIP Keith and thanks for many fond memories of childhood.

The Equalizer (2014)

OK, opening statement first; I fucking loved The Equalizer as a kid in the 80s.

The brilliant TV series starred Edward Woodward as Robert McCall, a middle aged former spy turned righter of wrongs. If you were in New York, had a problem with the odds against you and none to turn to, you called The Equalizer.

This big screen version was a long time in coming, being trapped in development hell since the early 00s. Several names were attached to the project in those ten years; writers like Frederick Forsyth, directors like Nicolas Winding Refn and stars like Liam Neeson, Sean Bean and - my own personal favourite and choice - Ciaran Hinds.

Sadly none of these was to be and when The Equalizer finally arrived last year it reunited star Denzel Washington and director Antoine Fuqua from Training Day and Robert McCall became (initially at least) 'Bob'; a middle aged and black, slightly OCD, Boston based, Home Mart store worker with an appetite for reading classic literature. 

It's always a big ask to adapt a fondly remembered TV series for the cinema so let's start with the faults shall we? You don't actually have long to wait as it comes along in the very first action scene which sees McCall confront an evil, sneering Russian pimp. He offers to buy out the contract of a teenage prostitute said pimp has used as a punchbag thus setting her free from her degrading employment and oppressive employers.

You don't need to be Sherlock Holmes to know how this plays out. The Russian says no and McCall, who cannot walk away leaving this girl to a life of further harm and hurt, proceeds to viciously, violently and efficiently dispatch the Russian pimp and his heavies (though admittedly this is after some strange and pointless slo mo stuff that shows the soon to be victims from McCall's POV, a trick that is seen repeatedly before every action moment to come. Don't know what Fuqua was thinking here as it really doesn't bring anything good to the table) 

Obviously this violent revenge approach is what you want and indeed expect from The Equalizer, but the bone of contention I have is how Fuqua's film goes about this level of revenge. McCall takes a gun from one Russian he attacks and shoots the pimp. But instead of then using this gun to dispose of the others, he puts down the gun (!) and picks up a corkscrew (!!) FOR NO GOOD REASON....other than IT LOOKS GOOD.

This bloody X rated 'Home Alone' style approach was an occasional feature in the original series but never to the mind bogglingly daft extent it is used here. Time and time again McCall has the perfect opportunity to arm himself with a gun but instead he chooses to maim and kill with a variety of make-do weapons such as an electric drill, a nail gun, a noose made of barbed wire, cutlery, a microwave full of explosive material and even a book!

You have to ask why a professional killer would constantly purposefully ignore the guns or knives he has ample opportunity to use at every turn. It really is silly at best and at worst gives the viewer a rather unsavoury image that this former intelligence/Black Ops agent was the kind of person at home in Guantanamo Bay with the torture methods that continue to make America uncomfortable. Maybe they're trying to suggest this incarnation of Robert McCall is a much darker character - and indeed there are moments in the script that allude to a somewhat dishonourable past he isn't proud of which resulted in his going to ground being an average Joe at Home Mart - but it's often hard to see the difference between the ruthless enemies he is dispensing with, and the modern day knight in shining armour he purports to be.

There's also an issue with his avenging angel persona, which is the single most important factor in The Equalizer. It's the USP. The film is basically at its best in the early stages when McCall is shown to regularly frequent a near deserted Edward Hopper style diner each evening where he meets and befriends the film's damsel in distress, the young Russian prostitute played by a surprisingly good (for the first time ever she didn't make me want to chuck things at the TV)  ChloĆ« Grace Moretz. These scenes have real heart and are reminiscent of the same kind of relationships that appeared in the original series. However, Fuqua clearly gets bored of them and dispenses with Moretz's character in just over half hour to focus on the extreme vigilante actions of McCall, allowing her to only pop up again in the film's closing moments. It's a cardinal error because it totally robs McCall's actions of any redeeming, sympathetic features. If Moretz was allowed to stick around, or at least show some more of the working girls who are - we can only presume - still suffering in silence night after night, we would at least have some emotional context towards the bloodletting action of our hero who now looks like a lunatic with little motivation or excuse needed to slay half of Boston's Russian underworld.

I never thought I'd say it but yes, I wanted to see more of Moretz.

There are occasional attempts to hark back to some of the style and sentiment of the TV series in the occasional subplot/diversion between McCall's rampant bloodlust. In once scene he takes corrupt Boston PD officers to task and makes them pay back the protection money they bully immigrant small business owners for, in another he  hunts down (albeit off screen) a young hold up artist who robbed his Home Mart store and stole an antique ring of the traumatised cashier, bring said ring back to her. In all these cases he's shown to believe in the responsibility society has for the disadvantaged and to have compassion, heart and time for those people - though the scenes with the overweight security guard at the Home Mart store do begin to grate rather quickly and it is rather silly that after what appears to be a very long time minding his own business and leading a quiet ordinary life McCall suddenly sees corruption and theft everywhere! Anyway,  whilst all of these chivalrous, altruistic moments are in keeping with the Robert McCall Edward Woodward so wonderfully brought to life back in the 1980s, for my money the key moment that felt most true to the spirit of the original series was the scene in which McCall crosses the street taking photos off Martin Csokas' Russian enforcer out to stop him, before watching them ransack his dummy apartment via a series of cleverly and carefully hidden security cameras from the safety of another apartment. That just had the same kind of magic I recall feeling watching the show as a child and that I still feel now whenever I reach for the DVDs.

The Equalizer is a distracting and actually rather entertaining bit of popcorn - I imagine it is especially so, if you're unfamiliar with the original series - but it really doesn't do to look too closely at its workings, because its actually a bit of a mess. But I have to give credit where credit is due and admit that it comes out as one of the better big screen adaptations simply by virtue of tackling the premise with an origins-tale style approach that dares to do something a little different to the established formula. The news announced this week that we are set for a sequel will no doubt be well received by many and I daresay I will check in just to see how they approach the McCall character now he has placed his legendary small ad offering his help to those who feel the odds are against them (online this time, hey its the 21st century guys!) Hopefully second time around they'll rectify some of the daft things on show here.

Though I have to say in completely ignoring Stewart Copeland's superb Equalizer theme tune the movie made a major own goal. Seriously guys, what's wrong with you? That is one of the best TV themes ever!

Monday, 27 April 2015

When Words Aren't Enough...

Seriously some people.

Right. On. My. Titamaboobs.

Summer (2008)

Summer sees two veterans of Ken Loach films, Robert Carlyle and Steve Evets team up to play lifelong friends Shaun and Daz in a deeply heartfelt, sombre drama set in Nottingham.

Once the town bad boys, we witness their friendship through three time periods; their innocent childhood riding around on bikes and getting into scrapes - some minor some major, their adolescence when love and alcohol enter into the mix and Shaun's turmoil at school with seemingly undiagnosed dyslexia and uncaring teachers is alleviated by his feelings for local lass Katy (as a teen played by Joanna Tulaj, and as an adult, Racheal Blake) and lastly their approaching middle age which sees Shaun serve as carer to the now wheelchair bound and alcoholic Daz, whose days are numbered due to terminal cirrhosis. 

Director Kenny Glanaan, working from a screenplay by Hugh Ellis, delivers a tale of regret and empty lives thanks to missed or completely, purposefully ignored opportunities in a simple yet utterly authentic and honest way. It's a great study in friendship and loyalty, guilt and responsibility that is thankfully subtly done rather than depicted in such a way as to beat the viewer of the head with. The key to the story is of course threaded through the three timelines, which appear on occasion almost like ghosts to the middle aged and suitably haunted looking Shaun. These interwoven strands come together hazily and lazily like the summer itself in an especially effective manner which explores the reason for the strong bond that unites the central pair, and just why Shaun is so devoted to his friend - a  reason that remains compellingly hidden to the audience until the very end. This is a bold and leisurely move that benefits the narrative and the structure of the piece extremely well, allowing us to explore first and foremost the relationships between the characters, helping us get to know them - which is important, and drawing out their three dimensional nature as a result.

Summer explores the gritty side of life and benefits from the extremely naturalistic performances of its cast (including an extremely good performance from Carlyle which he himself claims he is very proud, and rightly so) acting just as one would expect such characters to do in the real world. This is especially true in how the film depicts 'the sins of the father' trope; Evets' son, played by Michael Socha, is clearly going off the rails just as he had once done thanks to the booze yet the film refuses to use this opportunity to serve as propaganda or show him through the narrative the error of his ways. Mistakes are made in reality and Summer is clearly intent to simply record reality as close as possible. As a result there's no pandering to the sentimental or the schmaltzy, no sweet cinematic reconciliation or Hollywood style manipulative tugs at the heart strings. Yes this is a film which features disability and alcoholism, but it does so in an authentic matter of fact manner in keeping with film makers like the aforementioned Ken Loach or Shane Meadows, who as a native Midlander is of course no stranger to setting films in this part of the world.

If I have any minor gripes about Summer it is that the actors playing the young Shaun and Daz (Sean Kelly and Joe Doherty) great though they are, are too dissimilar to Carlyle and Evets and that on occasion there are some sloppy moments that take you out of the action; for example, we see one scene play out in real time which has Carlyle ask a receptionist if he can see Katy, who is now a successful solicitor. The receptionist goes off to check and seems to have Carlyle's full name and reason for attending that day, despite never having asked him. But these are minor gripes in what is an otherwise interesting low budget film, the kind that I'd like to see Carlyle do more of nowadays because its the best I've seen him for some time and clearly where his heart really lies.


Robin Askwith on the set of Confessions From A Holiday Camp, 1977

Factoid: I have this photo, signed by Askwith!

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Hansel & Gretel : Witch Hunters (2013)

Tommy Wirkola is a prime example of a non mainstream quirky and original talent 'emigrating' to the US and getting totally lost in the Hollywood machine.

In his native Norway he created the deeply trashy but rather fun horror B-movie, Dead Snow, whose strapline 'Undead Nazi Bastards' is still one I enjoy as being a prime example of calling a spade a spade. However something got terribly lost in translation for his first US film, Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, though it is baffling to think just how it managed to go so disastrously wrong.

The film has a great cast; the divine Gemma Arterton, Jeremy Renner, Famke Janssen and Peter Stormare, a bigger budget than Wirkola had previously experienced, and a release date which meant it was riding high on the wave of the latest penchant for steampunk and revisionist fairy tales, which with the tantalising possibility of such fare being handled by a Norwegian whose childhood was no doubt steeped in such stories and myths, surely meant we were in for an enjoyable ride?

But this was a back firing non starter of a knackered old jalopy.

So why was it so crappy?

Wirkola’s film takes the classic Grimm fairytale of a young brother and sister lost in the woods who arrive at a gingerbread house and are immediately in danger for their lives thanks to an evil cannibal witch. His spin is that thanks to this admittedly traumatising experiences the siblings grew up to become ruthless and merciless witch hunters, determined to rid the Medieval European villages of witches. Now, whether you buy into this rather bombastic development and premise depends on what your gauge is for silly when it comes to entertainment but I for one was fully prepared and hoping for something not unlike the classic kitsch 70s Hammer Horror Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter. But sadly what we get is actually a rather empty, loud whizz bang affair that struggles to keep its feet in two camps; the quirky Euro sensibility Wirkola naturally has and the desire to please the American popcorn market, with a liberal dash of emo.

This is especially prominent in the fact that British actress Arterton has to deliver her lines in a rather poor and restless US accent to fit alongside Renner as her sibling, as opposed to Renner adopting some RP English like her Prince Of Persia co-star Jake Gyllenhaal had done. This wouldn't be too bad if both stars had a little chemistry in their ass kicking partnership but they do not - though they seemed to have more off screen when appearing on The Graham Norton Show -  and, though they equip themselves very well in the action stakes (I especially enjoyed Arterton headbutting Stormare) at times it feels like they're performing in different films. Somewhere the story - such as it is - gets lost too and there's little for an audience to invest in at all beyond the next CGI heavy set piece and glib one liner.

Maybe if this was produced in his native country for a fraction of the budget with complete unknowns it could have been another cult favourite, but in the big spotlight of Hollywood its just a flimsy, barely considered mess.

It perhaps comes as no surprise that Wirkola's next venture after this flop was a sequel to Dead Snow.

Silent Sunday : Heart

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Double Bill : Don't Worry About Me / Forget Me Not

Two low budget Indie British films under discussion today that could be argued to be influenced (or at least similar in style to) by Richard Linklater's 1995 romantic drama Before Sunrise, Don't Worry About Me from 2009 and Forget Me Not from 2011, both detailing as they do a love affair that lasts 24 hours in a British city.

Don't Worry About Me is actor David Morrissey's directorial debut for the big screen (he had previously helmed the TV film Passer By) It is a bittersweet love letter to his native Liverpool masquerading as a romantic drama about two sad lost souls.

Based on a stage play entitled The Pool, Don't Worry About Me stars the play's writers James Brough and Helen Elizabeth as David and Tina. When he finds himself unexpectedly stranded and penniless in Liverpool, she takes pity on him and helps him win back his coachfare to his native London at the bookie's she works at. Being a seemingly decent sort, he then treats her to coffee by way of a thank you and slowly, a connection forms between these perfect strangers and they find themselves spending the day together, seeing the sights of Liverpool and dreaming of a life beyond their reach. 

In taking the central roles Brough and Elizabeth, hardly well known names or familiar faces, equip themselves very well with her just edging him in the empathy and likability stakes. But the real star of the film is perhaps the city of Liverpool and its surrounding areas, then basking in its Capital of Culture status. It's a shame then that Morrissey lends its evocation a somewhat flat, TV movie quality, but this is perhaps understandable given the limited budget.

A genuinely nice film, Don't Worry About Me will perhaps go down in history as telling the world - or at least the rest of Britain - about Queen Victoria's cock, something scousers have long known about!

Forget Me Not is a film I only got round to watching a couple of months ago. It received its premiere on BBC1 one late evening last March and came around again in Feb this year, when I finally settled down to watch it.

Like Morrissey's film, Forget Me Not is an equally bittersweet romantic British indie movie about unexpected love wending its way across 24 hours. It tells the story of musician Will (Toby Menzies, an actor I've liked ever since he played Max's doomed druggie son in Casualty several years ago) who, for some reason we're not immediately privy to, is contemplating suicide one night. By chance he takes a look outside his window and spies Eve (Genevieve O'Reilly, from The Honourable Woman - which also starred Menzies) the barmaid of the pub he had previously played in fending off a drunken and aggressive punter. He immediately comes to her rescue and then, out of duty and some little attraction, he escorts her across a nocturnal London to a party she is attending before continuing their slowly burgeoning relationship through 'til dawn and the following day. 

A movie that is so singularly middle class London as opposed to the more down to earth Liverpool on this themed double bill, Forget Me Not teeters the tightrope of  the romantically quirky and the downright pretentious in its depiction of the distinctly middle class metropolis (the all night iPod party, which sees revellers dancing in seeming silence, looks like it could fall either way really) but just about wins me over because I have a thing for these city at night tales and because there is some credible chemistry on display between the two leads. 

The final reel moves away from the quirky to address the unspoken issue with Will and ultimately get heavy whilst imparting its message. How you feel about that may depend on what you want to get from a romantic movie, but for me it perhaps felt a bit too tearjerky and actually distracted a little from its previous charm. But it had to get there I guess, I'm just not sure I totally bought it.

Put together, you would instantly see the similarities. They make for good bedfellows, but for me Don't Worry About Me edges it in terms of overall enjoyment and quality.

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Out On Blue Six : The Regents

The Regents, that wonderful post punk/new wave group I'm ashamed to say I only discovered earlier this year, were brought back - from beyond the grave - for the London Olympics in 2012 thanks to this video from stop motion animation artist Black Spot for their song London London (It's So City)

Read more about it here

Quite an apt song for St George's Day, no?

The rear cover art for the 7" single See You Later/Oh Terry - which I've recently bought

End Transmission

No One Is Beach Body Ready!

Yet another unrealistic body image is being forced down our throats by ad men to make people feel inferior 

Now don't get me wrong; I admire and enjoy the female frame as much as anyone (as you can probably see with some of this blog's content) but I draw the line at it being used to suggest one is superior to another, because that is just plain body fascism. In using this poster campaign, Protein World is directly targeting individuals with the aim to make them feel inferior when compared to the unrealistic body image of the bronzed model chosen to front the ads, and all in order to sell their product from 'the weight loss collection'

This is just another way of making impressionable people, specifically young teenage girls, feel awkward, inferior and ugly. And I do not agree with that at all.

Like Caitlin Moran says, not enough is being done to tell these kids that no one really looks like that. We need to start a conversation that reminds the young in our society to look around and ask themselves, do they really know anyone who looks like that, to keep them happy and confident in how they look themselves.

Stopping this kind of advertisement is a start. So please sign this petition here

What the fuck is 'beach body ready' anyway??

Happy St George's Day

The Best of British To You All!

God, remember when posting something like this didn't make you feel like a UKIP supporter? Let's go back to those times please and reclaim our country for what it is and always has been - a strong and proud, multi-cultural and open minded land that values diversity.

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

The Riot Club (2014)

The Riot Club is Laura Wade's big screen adaptation of her original play Posh. Clearly inspired by the Bullingdon Club, the notoriously ill behaved student dining society for the Oxford elite which counts the likes of Cameron, Osborne and Boris Johnson as its former members,  Wade's Riot Club establishes itself from the off as a centuries old society for the brightest and best to dine until sick on what life, lived to the full, has to offer.

Max Irons and Sam Claflin star as Miles and Alistair, two new students arriving at Oxford, who quickly catch the eye of the club as potential new members. Miles is clearly painted from the off as being a liberal, good egg; he graciously steps aside and allows Alistair to take the grand cloistered room he had been earmarked for, because Alistair's family had previously lived in it. He also defends the welfare state in a tutorial against Alistair's more traditional Conservative argument and, more specifically, he sets his cap on Holliday Grainger's Lauren, a hard working, working class girl from Yorkshire who has been allowed into the dreaming spires thanks to good grades, determination and a scholarship. With all these things in his favour its rather surprising he has such a perverse longing to join the club which includes in its number Douglas Booth, Poldark's Jack Farthing and Pride's Ben Schnetzer and Freddie Fox.

Alistair on the other hand is the complete opposite. A bad apple he is cold and ruthless and clearly languishing in the shade of his illustrious familial predecessors who had run wild through Oxford and the club. In wanting to cut his own swathe, he will resort to extreme measures - measures that could land them all in hot water.   

This occurs quite a way into the film and is essentially the main crux of what made the original play; a debauched dinner that spins wildly out of control within the private room of a rural pub called, tongue in cheek, The Bull's Head. I must admit (with my liking for films based on stage plays or those which could be described as stagy - a criticism for some, but not for me) it was these scenes that had the most frisson to them, which was certainly helped by the fact that it was the moment in the film when they seemed to break away from glamourising the juvenile behaviour of these toffs and depicting them with the ugly honesty they deserve.  

Director Lone Scherfig places a beautiful airy polish upon the proceedings in much the same way she did to her previous films One Day and An Education, but I do feel this does hamper the necessary bite and condemnation Wade's original play had especially when casting such a beautiful and familiar ensemble to play such disgraceful shits - there's always a risk that the beauty will blind people to the characterisation and have the audience root for them or be amused/enthralled by them. This is especially an issue with the film's 17th century set prologue which explains the hedonistic club's origins by depicting the the murder of its founding member the libertine Lord Ryot at the hands of a furious cuckolded husband. In kicking off the piece with such light hearted cheekiness it aims for our sympathy or getting us on side when in actual fact it should be abundantly clear that what we will see in the present day section of the film is par for the course and not an isolated spectacular bout of reckless boorish violence.

The 2010 debut of Wade's play Posh failed to keep the Tories out of government. Here's hoping this big screen version does enough to keep them out next month.