Posts Tagged ‘comedy’

All Cheerleaders Die (2013)

Posted: June 22, 2014 in Uncategorized
Tags: ,

Image

When Maddy’s cheerleader friend dies she tries out to replace her on the team. But what are her true motives? And how does her Wiccan friend fit in?

“All Cheerleaders Die” is a horror/comedy collaboration written and directed by respected horror auteur Lucky McKee (“May” and “The Woman”) and his close friend Chris Sivertson, best known by most for the execrable Lindsay Lohan vehicle “I Know Who Killed Me”, a strong candidate for the worst film of the millennium.

Without any knowledge of the extent of the collaboration the viewer can only guess as to the specifics. Given the way the film turned out, it would not be a surprise if Mckee and Stiverson had shared duties in a similar way to Tarantino and Rodriguez on “From Dusk Til Dawn”; with each essentially responsible for half a film, something that would explain the wild shift in tone that occurs here.

The film starts off as a dark psychological thriller, with Caitlin Stasey’s Maddy setting off on a twisted revenge mission. The opening sequence, as Maddy follows her cheerleader friend Lexi as she goes about her life, is incredibly effective; with a haymaker of a punchline capping it all off in startlingly brutal fashion. We are kept largely in the dark as to Maddy’s goals and motivations, as well as how far she will go to achieve her aims. It seems an interesting twist on the genre, broadly typical of McKee’s work; a studied pace and increasing creepiness leaving the viewer wondering where this will all go.

The narrative takes a bizarre turn halfway through, with twists stacking up, new rules established and then broken, as the film becomes increasingly breathless. Going from tense, to mildly demented, the film ends up completely insane; sitting in a corner hugging it’s knees and screaming abuse at anyone who dares to come near. It all flies by too quickly, feeling like a script written in a drunken stupor, piling up the silliness until it becomes borderline nonsensical, albeit in a very fun way. Alongside this is a rich vein of humour, pouring exuberantly from both the outrageousness of the situations and the cheerleader’s catty one-liners, many of which wouldn’t be out of place in superior teen comedies such as “Heathers” or “Mean Girls”.

The real problem with the film is the flimsy characterisation. The main characters are one note, with no discernible arcs or development, although the cast battle gamely with the challenge of imbuing their roles with something approaching personality. The supporting players fare even less well; hackneyed teen-movie archetypes that barely register beyond the single traits that define them. The result is that it is almost impossible to care about these characters, even whether they live or die, something that severely detracts from the film as a whole, robbing proceedings of any tension.

Maybe it is due to this general lack of sympathy with the cast, but when the grand finale comes it seems a massive damp squib, as characters you barely care about are offed in quick-fire fashion, often out of nowhere. Even the big final battle is underwhelming, the film threatening a grand pay-off before petering out with a brief, listless burst of unconvincing CGI.

Ultimately “All Cheerleaders Die” is something of a mess. Most of the individual elements are well enough done, and the film is a lot of fun, but it doesn’t hang together as a whole, leaving you with a feeling of promise unfulfilled. If you disengage your brain then the ever-escalating strangeness and off-beat humour is certainly entertaining enough, although long-time fans of McKee (who will likely make up a large portion of the initial audience) are sure to find themselves disappointed by it’s disjointedness and the lack of intelligence on display.

It is still easy to see this film gaining a sizeable cult following in years to come with audiences who will forgive it’s faults because of how surprisingly bonkers and unusual it is, a dumb teen-horror flick on acid making bizarre turns that no viewer could expect; something that was probably the intention all along.

Advertisements

Image

A bitter and long-running feud between two rival Yakuza gangs takes in the aspiring actress daughter of one of the bosses, the love of her life that she never knew she had and a gaggle of aspiring film-makers who dub themselves “The Fuck Bombers”.

“Why Don’t You Play in Hell” is a comedy-action movie from Shion Sono, probably best known in the West for the dark horror/drama “Suicide Club”. It’s been a lean few years for fans of the talented Japanese auteur, and his most recent films have failed to live up to the high expectations set by his best work. “Why Don’t You Play in Hell” is a rip-roaring return to form, a love letter to film fans that delivers pure enjoyment in the weird, darkly fun way that only Japanese cinema is capable of.

The first hour of the film assembles all the pieces of the jigsaw, and slowly slots them into place. Relationships are established and others formed against a backdrop of silly over-the-top comedy and bursts of extreme violence presented so stylishly that they are absurd rather than off-putting. The set-up most closely resembles that of a farce, as the disparate threads are deliberately woven together to set the scene for the ultimate confrontation between the bizarre cast of mugging grotesques and delusional caricatures. While it is easy to see where the film is heading, something that those unused to the pace of Japanese cinema may find frustrating, there is still more than enough going on to make this all extremely enjoyable in it’s own right.

It is during the big battle between the Yakuza gangs, taking up the bulk of the final stretch, that the film really takes flight. Gloriously excessive, outrageously ridiculous and somehow still surprising in the turns it takes despite how telegraphed the resolution is. There is a real glee to the action, referencing the films of Bruce Lee, “Kill Bill” and even “Bonnie and Clyde”, that draws you in; leaving your jaw hanging in sheer awe at the decadence of the violence. Sono shamelessly pulls out every trick he can think of to keep it all fresh, like a conjurer high on speed pulling rabbits from every orifice without ever pausing for applause.

Despite the sheer volume of bloodshed, it was clearly not Sono’s intention for this film to be taken seriously. Never has the phrase “it’s only a movie” been more apt, given the constant reminders that this is no sort of reality. “Just sit back and enjoy the ride, film fans” he seems to be saying, and what a ride he has constructed. Knowingly weird, wilfully obscure and, at times, borderline nonsensical; this is a terrifically fun film with plenty of laughs and an epic conclusion that will leave you with adrenaline coursing through your veins.

Image

Henry (Robin Williams) is mistakenly told by his doctor (Mila Kunis) that he has 90 minutes left to live and sets about putting right the wrongs of his immediate past.

“The Angriest Man In Brooklyn” is a comedy-drama from “Field of Dreams” director Phil Aiden Robinson, based on the Israeli film “Mar Baum” (known in English as “The 92 Minutes of Mr Baum”).

The supporting cast is the real treat here, most notably the incredible Peter Dinklage in a fairly major supporting role as Henry’s brother. Dinklage has an innate understanding of delivery and timing, imbuing his underwritten character with an immense likability while teasing laughs out of the slight material. James Earl Jones also has an absolutely hilarious cameo as a electronics salesman, providing the film’s one true laugh out loud moment, and it is genuine pleasure to see him back in front of the camera, however briefly. The ever reliable supporting player Bob Dishy gets the opportunity to react wonderfully to a few lines without being given any of his own and Louis CK is fun but absolutely wasted in a one scene cameo. The only problem with the presence of these sterling performers is that we see too little of them.

In contrast, it is a tragedy, given the talent floating around the rest of this movie, that we end up spending so much time with Williams and Kunis, both badly miscast and horribly uninteresting. Williams may occasionally be an electrifying performer (and much of his dramatic work has shown a surprising depth to his abilities), but it is impossible to feel sympathy for his loud-mouthed creation, oscillating between off-putting over-acting and moments of stillness that merely draw undue attention to how weird and stretched his face looks nowadays. He is clearly supposed to be an angry Brooklyn archetype, a caricature he only occasionally remembers to play up to before reverting back to his standard persona in a performance as inconsistent as it is unconvincing.

Kunis here is a strange blank void (although she is capable of more, as demonstrated by her excellent turn in Aronofsky’s “Black Swan”) and it is hard to believe her as a stressed-out junkie junior doctor. This is partly because no matter how intense the situation she is always pristine, an immaculate porcelain doll, and partly because of the vapid look she has every time she has to deliver any sort of medical dialogue (when she asks “Do you know what a brain aneurism is?” with a weirdly blank expression on her face, it is almost impossible not to shout “Yes, but you clearly don’t” at the screen).

This almost feels like it was conceived as an warm-hearted PG-13 antidote to Bobcat Goldthwait’s similarly themed and under-appreciated “God Bless America”. But where the dialogue in that film was razor sharp and pierced the soul of our society while being intelligent enough to skewer it’s own hypocrisy, here the rants are trite cliche, banal mundanities littered with profanity masquerading as wit. Robin Williams saying the C-word with his buttcrack hanging out isn’t comedy, no matter how much the makers wish it were that easy.

A great deal of the dialogue is delivered in voice-over form by Williams and Kunis, with both sounding bored to death by the words coming from their mouths, half asleep and waiting to be jolted awake by a courier arriving with their paycheques. It is amazing that a film so short (clocking in at 83 minutes in total) can run out of steam so astonishingly early, as if the writers couldn’t think of any more for these characters to do. The runtime is gracelessly padded out by flashbacks that crudely spell out the plot points you need to look out for: “I wanted you to be a lawyer not a dancer, dammit…this will be important later…MORE SHOUTING”.

The lack of subtlety carries over into the music, which wouldn’t feel out of place in the soundtrack to a worthy “Lifetime” drama from the late 90s. Tiresomely jaunty, whimsical melodies let you know which scenes are supposed to be “comedic” before composer Mateo Messina starts clubbing you about the head with ham-fisted mawkishness during “emotional moments”, clearly, and perhaps rightly, not trusting in the material to do the job on it’s own.

The film does do a good job of capturing the diversity and bustle of the Brooklyn streets on occasion, although rarely when the main characters are in shot. This leaves you with the impression that whoever was in charge of the second unit cared a great deal more about the quality of their work than director Robinson did, particularly during the scenes where truly terrible green screen takes over from location shooting, completely undoing the drama of pivotal moments.

Ultimately “The Angriest Man in Brooklyn” has nothing to say, a film with no purpose. It fails comedically and dramatically by not committing to anything it does; ill-conceived, half-baked and thrown together with no care. If you are fond of Peter Dinklage and have a great deal of patience then you may get a kick from his work in the movie, but anyone else would do well to avoid this whole acrid misadventure.

Blue Ruin (2013)

Posted: May 31, 2014 in Uncategorized
Tags: ,

Image

Drifter Dwight has retreated from life due to tragedy, living out his days stealing food from bins and sleeping in his disused car. When a kindly police officer informs him that his parent’s killer is to be released from prison, he snaps from his malaise and sets off on a journey that will have far reaching consequences.

Where many revenge thrillers are gleeful fantasies, “Blue Ruin” is sad, melancholy and, at times, almost tranquil. For long stretches the film is wordless and you are left to piece together the story from the actions of the main character and exposition delivered in brief snatches.

The violence that must come, as necessary to the story as the air these characters breathe, arrives in sudden explosions; unpleasant, palpable and with a genuine weight to it that most films can only dream of achieving. Punctuating this are genuine gut laughs, as the form of the genre is subverted; contorted away from fetishistic daydream toward maudlin and mundane reality. The perfect example of this arrives when our hero attempts some Rambo-esque field surgery on an arrow wound before the scene quickly cuts to him staggering into a hospital and collapsing in agony.

The direction is down to earth, as long languid takes emphasise the fact that this isn’t your typical revenge movie. The stylised flatness is a constant reminder that this film has no intention of descending into Hollywood hyperbole. The somber slow-burn pace is tinged with an innate wistfulness, which makes it all the more effective when Saunier masterfully ramps up the tension.

At the film’s centre is a wonderful turn from Macon Blair, returning from director Saulnier’s earlier film “Murder Party” (and those that have seen that film will appreciate exactly how much of a departure this is from that peformance). The camera is on him for the majority of the film’s runtime and he is a consistently enthralling and unusual presence. His Dwight is believably beaten, defeated by the tragedies that life has thrown at him; his big wide eyes, innocent puppy dog face and hangdog demeanour eliciting a never-ending stream of sympathy  as he plunges ever deeper into a dark world that is as alien to him as it is to the viewer.

Devin Ratray is also excellent as Dwight’s gun-nut old friend, a brief but immensely likeable cameo that lightens the mood and reminds you that Dwight was once just as normal as any of us before his world was blown apart. Ratray’s main claim to fame is his appearance as Kevin’s older brother Buzz in “Home Alone”, and based on the evidence here, he is not a child star who should be consigned to a “Where are they now?” clip-show. A moment toward the end of the film that could easily be dismissed as a kind of Deus Ex Machina is a trespass immediately forgiven, as you get the chance to spend a few more minutes with his boisterous character.

Director Jeremy Saulnier showed real promise with his first film, the likeable but flawed “Murder Party” and he largely delivers on it here, despite being hamstrung by an incredibly low budget. He gambled on himself, with what he couldn’t earn through a Kickstarter campaign coming chiefly from his own pocket, and beat the house at it’s own game. While small in scale, this is a film that packs a real punch, a quirky “Anti-Hollywood” picture that delivers as much bang for your buck as any blockbuster.

the dirties (2013)

Posted: April 17, 2014 in Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

Image

Two best friends are making a film for their high school media class; a dark comedy that sees them taking brutal revenge on a group of school bullies they dub the Dirties. When their film is rejected for being too violent, one of them jokingly suggests doing it all for real…

First time director Matt Johnson’s unique take on the school shooting genre is an incredibly assured debut from a real new talent. Presented documentary-style, the fly on the wall conceit takes us into the lives of these characters, letting us get to know them as people, subtly exploring their mindsets and focussing almost entirely on the journey to the inevitable conclusion rather than the event itself.

Johnson also takes the lead in this film, and is an electrifying presence as he straddles the line between charming sociopath and deluded, hyperactive child. At times incredibly annoying in his childishness, it is a testament to his performance than you end up not only sympathising with him, but feeling actual empathy. He is no monster, just a confused kid lashing out, someone who has lost sight of the borders between healthy fantasy and reality. It is all too easy to see how he got there, and still be charmed by him. Owen Williams gives a more naturalistic performance as his best friend, cowed by life as well as his showy, exuberant buddy, and is equally as effective, the emotional heart of the film without ever succumbing to trite pathos.

The interplay between the two is believably light and frothy, and we see all their silly plans and personal in-jokes. In another film film their behaviour would be the basis for broad comedy as they get up to typical misguided teen shenanigans, but here it is often difficult to laugh knowing where the film is going; serving as a melancholy reminder of the humanity of the characters. These are not the cold, troubled teens that the media tells us of, but laughing, joking buddies whose single-minded nerdiness has alienated them from their peers during that awkward period when children lie on the cusp of adulthood.

The documentary style is not the most dynamic way of telling a story, with “found footage” increasingly synonymous with low-quality and lazy film-making, but it becomes increasingly necessary as the film unfolds, perfectly playing into the theme of distancing yourself from reality. As the movie goes on the possibility begins to hang in the air that you are not watching a faux-documentary, but a fantasy, the characters seeing themselves through a non-existent lens, life feeling no more real to them than the plots of the films they devour. This ambiguity, the questioning of what is “reality”, takes it to another level, the film increasingly becoming a study of mental illness rather than a salacious reinterpretation of the similar terrible events that periodically dominate the news.

“The Dirties” may well draw comparisons with the similarly themed “Elephant”, but where that was a cold, heartless journey towards a final act, this is a warm film about how characters got to where they are. The somewhat abrupt conclusion sums up the differences between the two; rather than making hay from the brutality like Van Sant’s film, this culminates with a personal moment between the two leads, telling us everything about where they are as characters at that moment. While it does have many of the flaws that bedevil “found footage” films, Johnson has crafted a brave and intelligent film does well to rise above it’s low-budget limitations. It is a credit to the makers that this is as enjoyable a watch as it ultimately ends up being, while it is encouraging to find a movie from first time film-makers that tackles a controversial topic not with the intent of assigning blame or generating shock, but of promoting understanding and provoking thought.

Image

Princess Evie is deposed by the evil sorcerer Jerak, and now roams the wilds incognito. When she crosses paths with the famed swordsman Deathstalker, they join forces on a quest to reclaim her kingdom.

Although nominally a sequel to 1983 sword and sorcery cash-in “Deathstalker”, “Deathstalker 2: Duel of the Titans” couldn’t be much more different from it’s Conan rip-off big brother. While the original took itself incredibly seriously, the sequel is essentially a wild-eyed parody of that film, a scattergun spoof that never takes it’s tongue from it’s cheek.

Replacing Rick Hill, the meat-headed lunk who portrayed Deathstalker in the first movie, is John Terlesky, having an absolute whale of a time. He keeps the character’s nonchalant attitude, but turns him from brutish barbarian anti-hero into a wise-cracking rogue hiding a soft side, a sword wielding cross between Groucho Marx and Han Solo. His enthusiasm for the role is genuinely infectious, and his performance alone makes this by far the best film in the Deathstalker series.

Former Penthouse model Monique Gabrielle takes on the duel role of the deposed Princess as well as her evil doppelganger and she simply can’t act. Not even a little bit. Still, she is so innocent and charming that you really don’t care, and her lack of skills become part of the fun, whether it be staring blankly into her cheap knock-off crystal ball, hilariously attempting to channel the voice of the bad guy or angrily throwing objects at midget musicians.

The film was directed by B-movie stalwart Jim Wynorski, best known for the terrifically fun “Chopping Mall”. He also had a big hand in the script and is the man to thank for the film’s endearing light-heartedness. He knew exactly what type of film he was making and ramped up the campiness, striving to make everything as much fun as he could. Much like the ZAZ comedies of the time like “Airplane” and “The Naked Gun”, the film openly spoofs other movies by using their most famous scenes in an incongruous setting, with humorous nods to “Raiders of the Lost Ark”, “Goldfinger” and even “Rocky” as well as many more. It is one of these moments that provides the film’s only major bum note, an overlong parody of a pro-wrestling match that drags on interminably, an idea that may have seemed good at the time but doesn’t work in practice.

Although flawed, “Deathstalker 2” is a cheesy, campy, over-the-top spoof of itself, fully aware of it’s failings and all the better for it. It may be incredibly low-budget, and fairly badly made (look closely and you will find footage from the original “Deathstalker” filling up it’s runtime and even a parked car popping up in the background of one shot) with performances that often dip toward incredibly inept, but it is quite simply a ridiculous amount of fun, a real 80s B-movie treasure. Stick around for the end-credits out-takes too.

stagefright (2014)

Posted: April 8, 2014 in Uncategorized
Tags: , ,
Image
 
10 years after the murder of her actress mother, Camilla is working as a cook at a musical theatre camp for teens. When the decision is made for the campers to stage a revival of her mother’s last play, Camilla decides she wants to try out, but a mysterious figure seems hell bent on halting the production. 
 
“Stagefright” (not to be confused with the excellent 1987 Michele Soavi slasher movie of the same name) is a modestly budgeted light-hearted musical-horror written, directed and scored by first-timer Jerome Sable.
 
Although light in tone, “Stagefright” is more a film with a ridiculous concept played outrageously over-the-top than an actual comedy. It is a shame that more of the silliness couldn’t be translated into genuine humour, as although the film feels like it should be a comedy, it never really becomes one, despite raising the odd chuckle. 
 
The best realised aspect of the film is definitely the music. Sable clearly has a genuine affection for traditional musical theatre as well as an understanding of the medium, with one song in particular being a well constructed ode to the restorative power of showtunes that packs in references to musicals past in loving fashion. The songs used for the in-film musical are accurate pastiches of the form, although again, they are mostly played strangely straight, being more a reverential homage than parody. A rare exception is the film’s first big number, a high-school musical spoof that packs more laughs into it than the rest of the film combined, setting a tone that the film never quite lives up to. 
 
Although infrequent, the horror elements are quite well done when they do happen. A few of the murders are surprisingly graphic, particularly the early death of a cameoing Minnie Driver as Camilla’s mother. While a late surge in violence redresses the balance somewhat, the horror, like everything else, takes a back seat to the musical elements for too long, making this feel like an extra long episode of “Glee” with one or two gory moments and the occasional laugh, rather than the true genre hybrid it was intended to be.
 
“Stagefright” is a bizarre curio with a great, original idea, but it is too uneven in tone to  be truly satisfying and doesn’t really make a lot of sense. Credit must go to director Sable for at least trying to do something a little bit different in an era where taking chances is becoming increasingly rare, and the film does have moments where it delivers on it’s promise. It is a shame that it didn’t really come together, because no matter how much you genuinely want to like the film, when all is said and done it is a bit of a mess; a movie that tries to be several things without ever quite managing to be any.  
 

bad johnson (2014)

Posted: April 5, 2014 in Uncategorized
Tags:
Image
 
Rich is a personal trainer who blames his inability to remain faithful on his penis. One day he wakes up and it’s gone, roaming the streets in human form.
 
“Bad Johnson” is a broad low-budget comedy directed by one of the writers of “The Last Exorcism”, Huck Botko. Botko’s previous experience behind the camera has mainly come in mock-documentary form, and, while it is hard to praise his work here, he is assured enough for someone helming their first proper movie. 
 
While the acting is uniformly bad right across the board, with actors seemingly cast because of mild resemblances to established stars delivering performances that would be shameful in a porn movie, the biggest issue here by far is the script. 
 
The basic idea is actually a lot of fun, perfect grist for a big dumb comedy movie. Sadly when writing this, first-timer Jeff Tetreault forgot to include anything that was actually funny, relying on the premise providing it’s own humour and hoping that the material could be elevated by an able cast. The jokes he did write are unsubtle, unfunny and charmless, leaning heavily at times on hideous racism. The end result is a sub-Farrelly brothers high concept gross-out sex comedy that forgot to include any gross-out moments, sex or comedy. 
 
“Bad Johnson” might have been an amusing three minute Youtube skit, or better left as a silly trailer for a non-existent film. As a full length feature it commits the cardinal sin of film-making: it is plain boring. You are left scratching your head and wondering how exactly you can take a concept as completely out-there as this one and make it brain-achingly, stultifyingly dull. This is the type of film where you spend the majority of the run time looking at your watch and calculating how long is left, while repeating to yourself “let it end, dear god please, let it end”.
 

cheap thrills (2013)

Posted: March 18, 2014 in Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

Image

An eviction notice hanging over his head, newly unemployed family man Craig heads to a bar to drown his sorrows. There he bumps into an old friend and two strangers, a rich couple willing to give them money to take part in outrageous dares.

The full length directorial debut of E.L. Katz, “Cheap Thrills” is a horror/comedy that has been attracting a lot of attention at film festivals and will see a wider release later this year.

Essentially nothing more than a charmless and cobbled together extrapolation of Quentin Tarantino’s segment of the film “Four Rooms”, it soon becomes clear that no deeper thought went into this beyond raising the stakes of that premise. The only real highlight is the section most clearly inspired by that film (and the original Roald Dahl story on which it is based), a brief upturn that not only betrays it’s origins but also illustrates how poorly executed the rest of the film is.

“Cheap Thrills” may be nasty in tone but it still manages to be incredibly dull in execution; playing out like a kitchen sink drama that becomes increasingly horrific, with neither element done well enough to be satisfying. This is a film that tries hard to shock, but even at it’s most outrageous it still feels tepid. Alongside it’s underwhelming attempts at horror are overwrought drama and unfunny humour, constantly grating on your sensibilities like nails on a chalkboard.

It may have been possible to be more forgiving of the film’s flaws if the characters involved were likeable or in any way believable, if you cared about their predicament or empathised with their situation. Instead they evoke no sympathy or interest, especially as the plot becomes increasingly contrived and their behaviour ever more idiotic.

It is hard to know who this misfire was aimed at; it isn’t funny, scary, thought-provoking or even especially gory. Most damningly, “Cheap Thrills”, for all it’s desire to be provocative, is simply dull. A far greater torture than the acts these characters commit for money, would have been forcing them to sit through the full length of this mean-spirited and predictable movie.

in a world (2013)

Posted: March 12, 2014 in Uncategorized
Tags: ,

Image

Carol is a struggling vocal coach living in the shadow of her successful voiceover artist father. When the chance to be the voice of an upcoming blockbuster trailer arises she must see off the challenge of his protege, the hot new set of vocal chords on the scene, Gustav Warner.

“In a World” is a comedy drama that marks the writing and directing debut of Lake Bell, an actress perhaps best known for scene-stealing supporting roles in big Hollywood movies such as “No Strings Attached” and television series like “Boston Legal” and “Children’s Hospital”. Tailoring the film to display all of the talents she has too rarely been given the chance to show, she is remarkable. A quirky, slightly skittish leading lady, she is a genuinely charming presence with adroit comedic timing both verbally and physically. Given the subject matter, her vocal skill was always going to be key to her believability in the role and she delivers in spades, with an array of perfectly performed accents and a powerful way with a voiceover.

Alongside her, left-field stand-up comedian Demetri Martin is lovable and bumbling as the love-lorn Louis, a perfect foil for Bell’s nervous energy, while Ken Marino is expertly sleazy as Carol’s nemesis Gustav. The use of comedic actors playing it relatively straight gives the cast an immense likability, especially at the more dramatic points. Exemplifying this are Rob Cordry and Michaela Watkins, who really make you care about their marital difficulties in a key subplot. They expertly convey the dynamic of a couple who have become too comfortable and complacent in their relationship, while always keeping it light and watchable no matter how dark it seems to get.

Bell’s naturalistic direction gives everything space, the contemplative pace bringing a mood of authenticity to the often absurd proceedings. Big comedy slides by, skilfully underplayed and then gone; like real life moments that just happen to be funny. Even when the film plays up the ridiculousness, like a late montage of the main players on audition day, there is always a notable subtlety and sincerity on display.

The banter between the characters is also beautifully done, backstories becoming apparent from the interactions and genuine wit effortlessly emerging from the interplay, never forced or trite. These feel like normal people; friends messing around with each other, couples who love each other, families with fraught relationships bubbling beneath the surface.

In many ways this would have made perfect Hollywood big dumb comedy fodder. It has the unusual but recognisable backdrop, the clearly defined ultimate goal, the deftly constructed comic scenarios and the well written one-liners. But Bell has done this her own way, telling her story at her own pace and leaving the hard edges un-smoothed. There is a message of empowerment at it’s heart, but it is never hammered home and it does not overshadow the rest of the film. In this world characters are imperfect while victories are bittersweet and the film is all the better for it.

“In a World” is a genuinely sweet and laugh-out-loud funny film, a feel-good marshmallow brave enough to have a melancholy centre.