Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Review Unreachable

By Anthony Neilsen


The film industry came to Hollywood in search, amongst other things, of plenty of natural light and good weather. Oh yes and also to escape the restrictions and expense of the Thomas Edison film patents.

Unreachable is ostensibly the search by a current day enfant terrible filmmaker for the "perfect light" for making a movie. A devised drama, developed by writer and director Anthony Neilson with the cast, the basic story could be a play, a TV series or, dare one say it, even a movie.

Producer Anastasia (Amanda Drew), who also has a talent for fixing scripts, has brought together Palme d'Or winner director Maxim (Matt Smith), Director of Photography Carl (Richard Pyros), star actor, the unseen Sebastian, and ambitious actress Natasha (Tamara Lawrance) who seems, until she too succumbs to stage managing lives to curry favour, the only character who understands the difference between acting and "real" life.  

Meanwhile the financiers of the picture, an unoriginal sounding sci fi dystopia, Children of Ashes, have sent Eva (deaf actress Genevieve Barr) to monitor the progress of their investment.

Maxim (they all have Russian or German sounding names) apparently has never known his parents - why we never learn - and argues with his producer that  he should shoot on  celluloid rather than digitally. At the same time, he has lingering discussions with his leading lady and it all culminates in what seems to be a rather far-fetched but shrouded murder plot.

There are a few laughs in between with the arrival on set of Ivan, known as The Brute, named after one of the most powerful types of set lights and seemingly influenced by Klaus Kinski, Brought in by Maxim to hold up filming and the film company hostage to the director's wishes, The Brute does overpower the play like an all enveloping spotlight but he also takes a lover with the perfect credentials. 

Blonde Eva who with an outsider's eye also has a more clear sighted view than most on the set of what is going on. Meanwhile Karl turns into a wild eyed Rasputin plotter as he spots the chance to get promoted to director..

It's a bit clever-clever - Maxim and Ivan corpse during their own scenarios giving a clue that all is not exactly what it seems. TLT and her little automotive sidekick refuse to believe this is Matt Smith and Jonjo O'Neill bursting into laughter over lines they have now done night after night.

But the fact there is some confusion over this makes us think there is an uneasy alliance between character and plot with the latter moving by fits and starts and while it finally ties up, it feels clumsily done.  The elements are there but the stitching together feels problematic.

There's nothing wrong with the individual performances but the individual characters assume more importance than the plot which has a lot of different elements thrown at it. There is a final coup de  théâtre (or de video - design  by Zsolt Balogh), but it left as much of an impression as dissolving celulloid. So it's an amber light for a curious piece chiming though, we have to admit, with our short termist modern times


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