Directed by: Mickey Reece
Written by: #MickeyReece
Taking its name from #WilliamShakespeare’s Hamlet (Act 3, scene 1) and its “to be or not to be” soliloquy, writer/director Mickey Reece unleashes a hilarious, dark and contemplatory piece in Arrows of Outrageous Fortune. Split into a three act structure and with sly hints and eccentric edges painting a picture of where the divisive last act is heading, this film is a chaotic viewing. Theatrically inclined (obviously, considering its influences), Reece’s film feels confident and contained, with a lampooning of some serious subjects and a real dark comedy edge that reminds of Polanski’s Carnage or, perhaps, an episode of Shearsmith/Pemberton’s Inside No. 9.
The plot sees the wealthy George Arrow (#BenHall) reach out to his estranged son Henry (Alex Sanchez) from his death bed in hospital. Begrudgingly Henry goes, if for no other reason, to tell him what a horrid father he has been before he can no longer do so but to his shock, George has left Henry his large home...as well as the rather eccentric individuals that live within it. Naturally madness ensues, as lingering tensions between George’s wife (Henry’s stepmother) Gerlinde (Mary Buss), daughter (Henry’s stepsister) Teresa (Michaelene Stephenson) and George’s lover Evelyn (Cate Jones) begin to implode...with Henry flabbergasted in the middle of it.
Reece’s script is sharp and consistently funny, while also approaching some very serious subjects like abortion, death, the fragility of marriage, disability and suicide. The tone balances just right and it helps each character flourish, as they occupy roles that may feel quite familiar to fans of theatre, and it really makes this feel close and personal, almost as if you have been grouped into the dysfunction yourself. The final act developments will undoubtedly work or upend the whole film for you depending on your tastes but the consistent air of anarchy that accompanies certain parts of the film up until this point means that really, despite going a little spontaneously artsy in the final shot, such a crazed turn should come as no surprise. All in all, this film feels like a small tribute to the stage and its heritage and its use of Shakespearean kinds of ruminatory dialogue and themes is entertaining and not at all pretentious. It all works quite nicely all told and the film develops a great deal of its characters well considering the trim running length.
Likeable in some ways but lunatics in another, the characters are very entertaining and the cast do some very good work in bringing the energy. Alex Sanchez leads the film well, with a level-headed headliner who often says what he thinks quite openly and his relationship with girlfriend Mimi (a great #KinseyCharles) goes to some wild places. Meanwhile Mary Buss as the heavy accented and frustrated Gerlinde is a joy and practically steals the show, especially in some of her verbal throw downs with the stylish and emotionally unstable Evelyn, who is very well played by Cate Jones. While the practically dazed and in her own world Michaelene Stephenson as Teresa, comes to play one of the most (at heart) honest characters in this game of family, friends and high anxieties. Supporting players Mason Giles, Ben Hall, #JacobSnovel and #DallosPaz leave their mark on the story too.
I very much enjoyed watching the film play out and whether it was the confined cinematography work by #SamuelCalvin or Reece’s involving story and focused direction, I felt like I was an extended family member in this household, sat witnessing the disarray, and the experience was interesting, entertaining and bold in places. “Sea of troubles” indeed.