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.