Dir/scr/ed: Greg Loftin. UK. 2007. 92mins.
Evoking resonances of vintage Clint Eastwood fare like High Plains Drifter, Saxon stars Sean Harris as Eddie, a prodigal son who returns to the council estate of his youth. An ex-con, he has recently parted company with an eye and is desperately seeking cash to pay off some vicious loan sharks who appear to work in the fishmonger business.
His best hope lies with Linda (Matravers) whose husband Kevin (McNeill) has won £1 million on a television game show. Kevin has been missing for two weeks and so Eddie offers to turn Raymond Chandler-style detective and track him down, encountering various shifty estate residents who regard him with suspicion, contempt and, in some cases, guilt.
It is easy to read Saxon as a modern western. The estate is like a lawless frontier town, the two-fisted bailiffs and sneering council officers are the equivalent of corrupt lawmen and the residents living in the shadow of a local airport development could just as easily be anticipating the coming of the railway. The opening twenty minutes has a brazen confidence as it swaggers into view like a combination of Get Carter and television series Shameless.
The lively dialogue offers some amusing deadpan exchanges, the characters are intriguingly extreme and Sean Harris is an engaging, weasly underdog. The appeal soon fades as it becomes clear that eccentricity may be all that Saxon has to offer. Writer/director Greg Loftin favours a mannered approach that pushes the piece towards the cartoonish and always seems to go for cheap laughs and queasy violence. Eddie is punched in the face, kicked to the ground, attacked with a staple gun and pierced by the arrow from a crossbow before the mystery is solved.
Overplotted but unpersuasive, Saxon also throws in a little mariachi music, some chases captured with handheld camerawork and stray, dream-like images of figures walking the estate by night. The mish mash of styles and infuences becomes wearing and amateurish, leaving little room to take the story seriously or care about the outcome.
Intent on subverting any gritty, social realist potential in a story set on a housing estate, Greg Loftin clearly has some storytelling abilities but in taking on the roles of screenwriter, director, editor and executive producer he has clearly bitten off more than he can chew.
Production company/int'l sales
Sillwood Films (UK)
(44) 20 7690 4990