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  Show, The Moore Than Necessary
Year: 2020
Director: Mitch Jenkins
Stars: Tom Burke, Christopher Fairbank, Ellie Bamber, Babou Ceesay, Darrell D'Silva, Antonia Campbell Hughes, Richard Dillane, Roger Ashton-Griffiths, Alan Moore, Oaklee Pendergast, Siobhan Hewlett, Sheila Atim, Josie Taylor, Eric Lampaert, Robert Goodman
Genre: Thriller, Weirdo, FantasyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Fletcher Dennis (Tom Burke) arrives in Northampton by taxi armed with a selection of aliases and passports, all on a mission to track down the man who supposedly murdered the daughter of his client, the East End of London gangster Bleaker (Christopher Fairbank). The trouble is, once he has found a librarian who can identify the location of this man, there is a snag, for it seems he has been admitted to hospital the previous evening. On arrival at the hospital, Dennis discovers the man has died of his injuries which may put the kibosh on his payment, but there is more to this than meets the eye: the dead man was in possession of a valuable amulet Bleaker is extremely keen to get his hands on, so Dennis will not be leaving yet...

It may be surprising to see Alan Moore associated with a film, and one he wrote into the bargain, given his oft-proclaimed disdain for what Hollywood did to his comic book properties in search of blockbuster material. But bear in mind he had been showing up in his quasi-mystical persona in Andrew Kotting films, which were not a million miles away from what was on offer here, except Moore in collaboration with director Mitch Jenkins was serving up something less organic, more arch and sad to say, contrived in a pleased with itself fashion that was playing to the gallery rather than aiming for a bunch of new converts. There was no doubt Moore was a genius, but there was a reason he had made his name in comics as his words did not sound natural emerging from flesh and blood actors.

At least this had the excuse that this was no natural plot, so a certain artificiality was part and parcel of the overall effect, but it was a one note work that flogged its central mysteries to death while never supplying any satisfying answers to any of them. There were some answers, but they simply led to fresh mysteries, leaving a puzzle box of a movie that never resolved itself, merely kept spinning its yarns until it ran out of steam, but did not run out of enthusiasm to the weirdness. In that way it was quite admirable to see something so uninterested in pandering to the mainstream, but when your work resembles a cross between Neil Gaiman flop TV series Neverwhere and the Pet Shop Boys' surrealist music conceit It Couldn't Happen Here, not that they were references Moore was going to make, then maybe, just maybe, you could observe this belonged to a certain tradition.

In days of yore, well, the nineteen-eighties, anyway, you would have seen something like The Show on an even lower budget around midnight on a weekday evening on Channel 4, it was that kind of fare that gets dismissed as arty-farty, but so wilful was Moore's obsessive nature in the things he was interested in that fans of his canon would be cheerfully identifying where one piece of the jigsaw puzzle fit into another. Dennis, it seemed, was supposed to be a grown-up Dennis the Menace, the immortal character from the pages of British comic The Beano, though as they did not have the rights to that here these were mere allusions that summed up the rest of the piece's attitudes to the references. The cast seemed to be enjoying themselves, and why wouldn't they be? They had lots of idiosyncratic dialogue to recite and get their teeth into, though the usual criticism for Moore, that he can't write women, was undercut for a while until he relented to cliché and had his leading lady (Siobhan Hewlett) kidnapped at gunpoint. Whether many could be bothered unpicking the threads here was a moot point, as Moore has such a following that you could guarantee someone would enjoy it. He also showed up as a character apparently overdosing on Studio Line from L'Oreal.

[The Show is released on digital platforms by Altitude on 18th October 2021.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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