Thursday, 14 May 2015

Treacle Jr (2011)

Treacle Jr is a simply wonderful heartwarming feelgood little indie from 2011, another treat offered up on late night BBC2 last year. It also boasts the best performance I've seen from Aidan Gillan, an actor who has an impressive CV but is prone to laying on the smarm rather than the charm thanks to a succession of sleazy, knobhead roles. 

Tom Fisher stars as Tom, a man who has a spectacular midlife crisis and walks out one day on both his wife and baby boy with no explanation given. Arriving in London, he opts to live rough on the streets but, alone in a park at night he is set upon by a gang of violent thugs and, in his bid to escape, he accidentally runs into a tree.

In A&E Tom meets an extremely happy but extremely innocent, colourful man called Aidan, played by Aidan Gillan, who proves to be the complete opposite of the reserved, cynical and tormented Tom.  Although Tom is immediately bemused and irritated by the both fast and nonsense talking stranger, he proves too polite to tell him to leave him alone and the childlike Aidan sticks to him like glue, giving Tom no option but to become involved in his life.

Aidan's naive optimism means he is totally blind to the problems he faces and the evils of the world, in particular those people who would take advantage of him - in particular his 'girlfriend' the dangerous but beautiful Linda (pictured above) whom Tom had previously spied having sex with another man in a graveyard in broad daylight. Despite himself, Tom tries to help Aidan see the truth and at the same time, help himself.

It's a small film with a big heart thanks to the Aidan character. He's clearly someone with learning difficulties: the vile Linda taunts and admonishes him, calling him a 'retard' and worse throughout the film, whilst he himself explains to Tom at one point that he was starved of oxygen at birth, leading to his parents giving him up. Played by Gillan with a comically loose limbed, lisping, endlessly sunny disposition that is both hilarious and poignant, Aidan is the kind of soul he can never accept the bad in life. Everything plays out fine and it's all meant to be - you can't help but be won over by him, much like Tom himself.

Incidentally, the title refers to a kitten Aidan has for mice catching one of the many odd jobs he provides but seldom gets taken up for. I especially liked his offer to trim garden hedges with the greeting "Your bush needs seeing to" to naturally bewildered housewives!


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