You'd imagine that after the international success of Once, writer/director John Carney would have had plenty of opportunity to work with some decent material, but instead he's chosen to revisit a sci-fi short he made before his debut feature and the results are little short of embarrassing.
There's so much wrong with this film it's hard to know where to begin. For starters, although it's clearly set in the present day, most of the characters appear to be straight from the 50s as the small rural village of Ballymoran witnesses a comet pass overhead. The Cassidy family return to their house to find a mysterious man clad in a red plastic suit and cycling helmet, Zonad (Simon Delaney), conked out on their living room floor.
The slack-jawed yokels believe him to be from outer space and give him the run of the town, which is where all logic in the story is completely disregarded.
Zonad tries to give the impression that it's some sort of sci-fi spoof but hasn't got a script worthy of the task. It'll be stoutly defended by its makers as 'only a bit of a laugh' but really, being aware that something is a pile of crap doesn't mean that it's any less of a pile of crap. Awful, and with a disturbingly sleazy undercurrent to boot.
The Scouting book for boys * * *
(drama. Starring Thomas Turgoose, Holliday Grainger, Susan Lynch, Rafe Spall, Steven Mackintosh. Directed by Tom Harper. cert 15A)
Having impressed in two Shane Meadows' movies, This is England and Somers Town, Thomas Turgoose turns in another fine performance in the debut feature from Tom Harper. Set in a Norfolk caravan park the film follows 14-year-old David (Turgoose) and his best friend, Emily (Holliday Grainger), as they make the best of the summer while his father and her mother work on the site.
What's shaping up to be a conventional coming-of-age story takes a dark turn when Emily receives word that she's going to live with her father and the pair concoct a scheme to make it appear as if she's gone missing. Things quickly spiral out of control and, while Turgoose is chillingly effective at conveying how David's attitude to the situation has changed, his character's course of action doesn't really ring true.
That said, for a low-budget movie it looks lovely and the performances from the two leads are commendable. A really solid indie film.