Brothers Grimsby

Alright, I kinda knew I wouldn’t like this, but gave it a try because a friend said it was quite funny. It isn’t. Really, not funny at all. Sacha Baron-Cohen’s take on England football supporting ‘chav’ is just nasty. There might have been a germ of a good idea in here, a sort of Shameless meets Kingsman, but at every step it makes the wrong choice. The depiction of the working class is just sneering, the offensive humour just offensive, the jokes lacking in any irony. Even 15 year old boys will find this tiring.

There is a fine line between getting things right and missing completely – ask the sibling of a famous sports star who toils away in the lower leagues while their star sibling is awash with great wealth. A bit of physique difference, a subtle alteration in psychology, a smidgeon of talent – not much here and there, but it makes all the difference. When you’re making this kind of deliberately offensive comedy all those decisions have to be right for it to work, and here none of them do. By the time it gets to a testicle sucking scene (acting out the old Lone Ranger -Tonto joke) it is so tired, and trying so hard to shock that it becomes truly embarrassing to watch.

Maybe there is a case for making a meta-point about culture and racism here – we didn’t mind when it was the people of Kazakhstan being offended with Borat. There may be some truth in that. But it has to be funny first before you can make any claims about irony or justifications about cultural comment. And this isn’t. Not at all.

The Ones Below

Disliking superhero movies as I do, there is a dearth of anything decent up at the cinema, so I’m reviewing this recent release. It’s a British thriller focusing on married couple Kate and Justin, who are expecting their first child. They live in a first floor flat, and a couple, Jon and Theresa, move in below, who are also expecting. We know we’re in for a mix of middle-class tension and psychological horror when we see the overly pristine garden the downstairs, and this is borne out when they host a dinner party. Whereas Kate and Justin put off having a baby and then got pregnant without trying, for Jon and Theresa it has been a long held purpose, only now realised after 7 years.

There are echoes of Rosemary’s Baby and French gore flick Inside in The Ones Below, but it’s a more more subdued, tense affair. Clemence Poesy is particularly engaging as Kate, slowly unravelling with the manipulation of the coldly sinister Theresa, and David Morrissey is convincing in his now familiar creepy, controlling bank exec type. It’s well scripted, every item and scene has purpose, as is revealed in the final denouement. The principle of Checkhov’s gun states that everything should have some contribution to the narrative and writer/director David Farr seems to have really taken this as a mantra.

It dips around two thirds through, we know what the likely outcome will be, and there is a sense that some tropes have to be worked through before we can get there. And it doesn’t quite overcome it’s ‘funded by the BBC’ feel, ironically Farr wrote the Night Manager for TV which had a more cinematic sense than this. But it’s a decent psychological thriller, and both Farr and Poesy are probably destined for bigger things.