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  Low Down, The Nuthin' Doing
Year: 2000
Director: Jamie Thraves
Stars: Aiden Gillen, Kate Ashfield, Dean Lennox Kelly, Tobias Menzies, Rupert Procter, Samantha Power, Deanna Smiles, Maggie Lloyd Williams, Agnieszka Liggett, Alysha Westlake, Adam Buxton, Joe Cornish, Paula Hamilton, Alicia Eyo, Dorian Lough, Martin Freeman
Genre: Drama, RomanceBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: What to do next? Frank (Aiden Gillen) is a propmaker for television shows whose life seems to be winding down before it's really started. His best friends are Mike (Dean Lennox Kelly) and John (Tobias Menzies); John's favourite pasttime is sleeping and frequently turns up late for work or lets Frank down when they agree to meet, complete with with flimsy excuses, while Mike is essentially their boss, and lives with his long term girlfriend. They're all easygoing enough, but Frank is dissatisfied with his lot, even if he can't put these feelings into words, and goes to a local estate agent to look for another flat, as the one he shares with Terry (Rupert Procter) is beginning to feel a little cramped. But when he reaches there, he finds more than he bargained for in the shape of Ruby (Kate Ashfield), who works in the office...

Rock video director Jamie Thraves made his feature length debut with The Low Down, yet unlike other video directors' films this was no special effects-packed action movie or determinedly quirky comedy, but an intimate gaze at twenty-somethings' relationships, the time where you make up your mind about where the rest of your life should be headed, even as Frank is reluctant to make any such important commitments. Not only is it the low down, its all low key as well, paying attention to the smaller moments in the characters' lives to build up an overall picture of indecision that strangely never frustrates, rather piques the interest about exactly where this apparently minor, almost inconsequential, drama, is heading.

In fact, the atmosphere is a lot more oppressive than it might first appear, and can make for uneasy viewing as the plotlines appear to be building to a possibly violent explosion of pent up emotions. Which it does, sort of, only not quite in the way you'd expect, and blithely leaving questions that you will be pondering by the close unanswered. Ruby should be a jolt of electricity in Frank's life, and you could say they were well suited, but only because she is as unsure about where to take her life as he is. She shows him round a flat as part of her job, but instead of securing a sale, she secures a boyfriend, although she's keener than him; when Frank says his last girlfriend refuses to talk to him anymore, you eventually see why with his deliberately turning up late for dates and such obliquely passive mind games to test her.

It speaks of the ambitions of the film, and the characters therein, that, say, the guest stars are cult TV duo Adam Buxton and Joe Cornish, or Mike's impressions are of not only Al Pacino but also Les Dawson presenting Blankety Blank. Thraves is intent on capturing personal moments at their slightest, keeping his camera close to his cast to pick up the eye movements and facial gestures that make plain their intentions if you're paying attention. It would be simple to let The Low Down wash over you, just as Frank lets his experiences pass him by until his tensions grow too much to take, and the don't care attitude of John sums up everything that he hates about his existence. But even as the film ends, it is not clear how far the mumbling Frank will progress, and those tensions he feels bleed over into the atmosphere of the work, putting the audience on edge. Music by Nick Currie and Fred Thomas.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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