A Bad Trip Down Memory Lane
Niall Greig Fulton
Running Time: 93 minutes
US Certificate: N/A UK Certificate: 18
Country: United Kingdom
Right from the opening scenes of Crying With Laughter where our anti-hero comedian is cracking off jokes before descending into a dark monologue recounting a turbulent past few days, Director Justin Molotnikov, expertly sets the contrasting tones for the rest of this impressive Scottish thriller.
The story of Joey Frisk (McCole) is told in a fast-paced, gripping and visceral manner punctuated by a narrative in the guise of a stand up routine. Joey (McCole) is a jobbing comedian in Edinburgh who one day bumps into Frank (Shields), an old classmate who seems to know a lot about him but whom Joey has no recollection of. At his next gig Joey viciously uses this encounter as a comic anecdote, however Frank just happens to be in the audience. From this point on Frank keeps popping up in Joey’s life and his life coincidentally begins to fall apart. This blast from the blast is conveniently always there to lend a hand but it is quite obvious that Frank is up to something.
Joey Frisk, charismatically played by Stephen McCole, is not a lovable guy – he takes far too many drugs and drinks too much (sounds like a typical Scot to me), he’s a bad father and is prone to violence but he’s very funny and easy to sympathise with. Shields is suitably unnerving as the mysterious old classmate and benefactor and keeps the viewer on edge with his shady intentions. The cinematography is refreshingly original as locations, including the cavernous comedy club, the winding alleyways of Edinburgh and the greenery of the Scottish countryside, and are used to great effect throughout the film.
The only negative comes in the form of a lazy memory loss plot device that makes tying up the story a little easy but that barely takes anything away from a well-executed, thrilling ride. After a growing list of successful festival appearances, it deserves a good run as it receives it’s nationwide UK release.
It's Got: Humour, dark and brutal storytelling, two excellent performances by McCole and Shields.
It Needs: Rid of the memory loss plot device.
Justin Molotnikov delivers an excellent film debut with a darkly comic thriller that presents well-paced storytelling, inventive flourishes and two quality leads.