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Review by Rich Cline |
dir-scr Neil Maskell
prd Stephanie Aspin, Helen Simmons
with Amit Shah, Sura Dohnke, Tom Burke, Roger Evans, Jenna Coleman, Andre Duvalier, Sven De Ridder, Gracy Goldman, Xan Kite, Mark Austen, Henry Hume-Kendall, Benjamin Smith
release UK Oct.22 lff
TORONTO FILM FEST
Is it streaming?
Using the Dutch word for whistleblower as its title, this blackly comical British thriller delights in putting its characters into awkwardly intense situations. Actor-turned-filmmaker Neil Maskell finds an array of sharp-edged detail in this collision between offbeat people who are facing a situation that might be quite dangerous. Or maybe not. It's a very well-assembled little film, and its only weakness lies in how it remains so deliberately elusive.
In rural Belgium, Ewan and Silke (Shah and Dohnke) are stressed about the earth-shaking information they're about to reveal. Holed up in a farmhouse, they wait nervously for a top British journalist to take their story. But the first arrivals are armed guards Kevin and Benjamin (Burke and Evans), hired by the newspaper to protect them. As they wait, they talk a bit too much, play a game of charades and try to keep their minds off the awful information they're here to convey. And foul-mouthed freelance Flo (Coleman) isn't the journalist they were expecting.
While the thriller plot remains simmering in the background, Maskell keeps the film centred on the characters' idiosyncrasies, which are augmented in this rather absurd isolated location. What Ewan and Silke know remains blurred to the audience, obscured by music and editing that only leave some visual hints that it's seriously momentous information. "Everyone needs to know," Ewan insists, but Kevin and Benjamin soon wish they didn't. And Ewan and Silke are right to be terrified about who they can trust.
Performances are earthy and grounded, making the most of the cleverly underwritten dialog. Shah is hugely sympathetic as terrified IT guy Ewan, while Dohnke's matter-of-fact Silke adds a brainy kick, astutely wondering just who the guards are actually trying to protect. Burke has a gruff edge as the over-cautious, by-the-book Kevin, while Evans gives Benjamin a more open emotionality, taking things as they come and quickly admitting that his name is really Glynn. And Coleman brings a staggering blast of energy as the no-nonsense reporter.
Snappy dialog keeps things moving, even though dodging Ewan and Silke's information leaves a black hole at the centre of the movie. With a McGuffin this glaringly nonsensical, what's left is to enjoy the barbed dialog and note-perfect performances. As it progresses, the premise raises complex questions about the precarious nature of trying to do the right thing when the stakes are high. With a bit more meat on its bones, this film would carry a very strong kick. But even as is, it's a strikingly punchy romp.
R E A D E R R E V I E W SStill waiting for your comments ... don't be shy.
© 2022 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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