Monday 25 July 2011
Break My Fall Review
For such an exciting and happening city as London, there is certainly a great film to be made about the lives of its creative, polysexual young things, yet very few have attempted to capture this scene and the few people who tried have done it no justice. Either they try too hard and end up making their cast seem incredibly smug and annoying, or they just lack the talent to carry out their vision.
Will London ever has its Gregg Araki, its Pedro Almodovar, its Gus Van Sant? Instead, we either have the vomit inducing Richard Curtis land of "loveable" toffs (Notting Hill, Love, Actually), and the opposite extreme world of gritty council estates in films such as Kidulthood and its sequel Adulthood (What comes next, Pensionhood?). So it is laudable that first time director Kanchi Wichmann has managed to find a realistic tone that will ring true to many Londoners of all persuasions in low budget Break My Fall. The question is however, was its story worth telling?
In Break My Fall, Liza and Sally Sellout, a young lesbian couple living in East London, are going through a "can't live with you, can't live without you" phase. We watch their relationship slowly disintegrates in a flurry of recriminations, broken dreams, and raucous and short-lived reconciliation attempts. The narrative is deliberately loose, which contributes to its authenticity, as we follow them and their friends on their everyday routine of dead-end jobs, band rehearsals, nights out in underground bars and clubs and lazy days in a drunken haze.
As a time capsule for the lives of a certain type of young Londoners of the noughties, the grubby, beer bottles-littered shared houses, the morning-after hangovers, the melancholic daydreaming in bed on a grey morning with all the time in the world, the fry-ups in dodgy cafes, the bickering over unpaid bills, the highs and lows of relationships, the drink and drugs fuelled night out, the close friends who act as a substitute for a non existent family... this will all ring true for many of us, far from the usual stereotypes of urban youth.
A suitably cool and excellent soundtrack never overpowers the images or feels artificially tagged along, and there is a more than decent acting from the two leads Kat Redstone and Sophie Anderson (although, in one rare slip-up, one of the actresses manages one of the least convincing drunken scene ever), making their passionate and rather destructive relationship all the more believable. The amateurish supporting cast however brings very little and pretty much blends in the background.
And the question remains, it is really all that compelling? I am all for somebody capturing the essence of certain part of modern-day London, and the director deserves credit for her effort to bring to life an earnest and heartfelt vision which has undoubtedly been fed by her own personal experience. Plus, despite a low budget, she still manages to give her film a cinematic feel thanks to her visual talent. But I felt the characters were not all that engaging after all, and neither was the narrative, which ultimately might limit the film's audience.
For all her honesty however and her eye for visuals, Kanchi Wichmann could well become a distinctive voice in the barely existent underground scene of UK cinema. Break My Falls is currently showing at the Apollo in Central London for the rest of this week, and will be released on dvd shortly.