Dir: Jamie Thraves. UK. 2000. 96 mins.
Prod cos: Oil Factory, Sleeper Films, FilmFour, British Screen. International Sales: FilmFour International, tel: (44) 207 868 7700. Prods: John Stewart, Sally Llewellyn. Assoc prod: Nicole Keddy. Scr: Jamie Thraves. DoP: Igor Jadue-Lillo. Ed: Lucia Zucchetti. Mus: Nick Currie, Fred Thomas. Main cast: Aidan Gillen, Kate Ashfield, Dean Lennox Kelly, Tobias Menzies, Rupert Proctor.
Successful video director Jamie Thraves said he made Chilean-born DoP Jadue-Lillo watch over fifty films just before beginning the shoot of The Low Down, in order to show him the exact style he was looking for in his first feature film. The result is a stylistically remarkable cross between Thraves' cinematic role models Jean Luc Godard and John Cassavetes, yet without the dramatic tension of the iconoclastic filmmakers.
A quiet and meandering look at indecision and restlessness among late twenty-somethings in London, The Low Down revolves around Frank (Gillen), an artist who makes props for commercials, and who cannot take the plunge in life, be it in his art, in buying a house, or with his new girlfriend Ruby (Ashfield).
With the use of a hand held camera, Thraves, like his predecessors, weaves long moments of silence, sparse dialogue, extreme close-ups and abrupt flashbacks to create an ultra-naturalistic film. The danger with such long pauses, however, is that what little dialogue there is becomes all the more precise and meaningful.
Unfortunately, the dialogue in The Low Down tells little more about the characters except that they spend a lot of time making small talk, which can be sustained for only so long on screen before giving way to (audience) indifference. The actors do well with the sparse script, but are given far too little with which to create more in-depth characters.
The film was in official competition in Locarno and should do well to establish Thraves as an interesting new cinematic presence, but The Low Down will probably have quite a limited life beyond UK television and the festival circuit.