It’s never clear why My Accomplice, the debut feature from director Charlie Weaver Rolfe, is called ‘My Accomplice’.
The film’s title screen goes to the trouble of defining the term – ‘a partner in a crime or wrongdoing’ – but this is not a crime caper, nor is there any discernible wrongdoing committed. What My Accomplice is, in fact, is a romantic comedy, though the extent to which the two necessary elements of the genre are present is debatable.
Frank (Stuart Martin) and Ilse (Alexandra Kalweit) meet by chance on their way to Brighton, and My Accomplice charts the halting progress of their fledgling relationship. Their story is undermined, however, by awkward scripting and uncertain performances, and whatever one might think of the film’s ‘unusual’ brand of comedy, it’s the banality of this central romance that is its most serious issue.
The cast of extras is rather baffling, too. Minor characters include Ilse’s roommate, who spends the film being tormented by his bicycle, two men intent on impersonating seagulls (admittedly the credit for ‘Man-gull 2’ raised a chuckle), and numerous other bizarre Brightonians. Tellingly however, each is more bewildering than entertaining.
The film’s editing is another of its oddities, but whilst it’s tempting to see Rolfe’s abundant jump cuts and unusual transitions as an intentional quirk, one senses that they simply betray a lack of experience, ultimately coming off as amateurish rather than ‘auteur-ish’.
It’s a refreshingly upbeat film in a festival seemingly dominated by somber dramas, but in spite of its good intentions, My Accomplice is difficult to recommend.
From its very first shot, where a young girl is revealed in profile as pregnant following a lengthy track, Uncertain Terms, the new film from director Nathan Silver, is prepared to confound expectation.
What is billed as a love story between Robbie (David Dahlbom) and Nina (India Menuez) finds a pair of characters dominated by doubt at a critical point in their lives. The latter has achieved an uneasy state of stability while living at a halfway house for pregnant teenagers, but 30-year-old Robbie’s arrival in this space as a handyman provides the impetus for an interrogation and disruption of both characters’ hopes and values.
Though flecked with comic moments, the film staunchly refuses its cast any release from their respective difficulties. These trials are perpetually inscribed on the bodies of the girls at the house, and with Robbie they are distilled into the constant, anxious buzzing of a phone – a wonderfully economical method of manifesting the encroaching presence of his unfaithful wife.
A more obvious film might aspire to pathos above all else, but Robbie’s quietly covetous glances at the teenage Nina are troubling; all the more so because of Dahlbom, whose restrained performance is a continually conflicted picture of mingled concern, uncertainty and desire. His readiness to devote himself so fully to her is startling, though believable within the context of Uncertain Terms strangely detached setting, but ultimately the film’s ambivalence towards the relationship is its most compelling feature, and the perfectly pitched final moment its most enthralling scene.
Winners of EIFF 2014’s short film awards and two of its documentary premieres have been nominated for 2015 BAFTAs.