Directed by Andy S. McEwan
Starring Steven Patrick, John Gaffney, & Darren McColl
Short film review by Alexander Halsall
A short comedy film written and directed by Andy S. McEwan, his first time behind the camera, set in East Kilbride, South Lanarkshire, from where McEwan was raised. This is the first film produced by Pentagram Productions UK and sees McEwan realign with regular collaborator Chris Quick.
A pair of removal men, Frasier (Steven Patrick) and Tam (John Gaffney), find a chest full of old records in one of the houses they’re working at. The two believe the contents to be of a high value due to the pre-war age of the records, and think they have struck it rich. However Jim (Darren McColl), a young co-worker, overhears the pair and wants in on the deal, otherwise he will tell the owner of the house about the theft. This leaves Frasier and Tam having to devise a way to keep all their ill-gotten earnings for themselves.
It was wise of McEwan to set his film in East Kilbride, utilising his knowledge of the area, and the people who live within it. The films lead pair have good chemistry and deliver the majority of their dialogue with a naturalism that allows the conversations the pair have to flow with an entertainingly fast paced rhythm. They are a double act who play off each other well with the idiotic spontaneity of Tam contrasting nicely with the slightly less idiotic ‘straight man’ Frasier. The film is well shot, without being too imaginative, with a nice variation of angles for what is such a low budget film. However when a film is described as a comedy you can’t ignore the elephant in the room, and you have to ask, is Broken Record funny? With sadness I must admit it is not. I like the idea of some of the comedy set pieces, the heist wherein Tam tries to hide his face in a rather unusual method should be funny, but the structure of the gag is broken. We are introduced to the heist half way through the act and following the theft Frasier acts like he has only just noticed Tam’s ill schemed thought. The logic of the scene does not hold up and the gag falls flat. Later in the short film we are introduced to a character by the name of Cecil Hardcastle (Alan Cuthbert) who talks and dresses like he owns most of South Lanarkshire but appears to be living in a small flat in a rather atypical street. I understand the film has a low budget and I do not expect Cecil to wander out of a country estate, however could we have not met the character on neutral ground? Rather than outside his small flat in East Kilbride?
Broken Record is a short inoffensive moral tale that engages without impressing, is competently shot and directed, with its greatest strength that of Steven Patrick and John Gaffney who bring as much energy and enthusiasm to their roles that they can. However the stories predictability, allied with the lack of wit and humour the film has mean that I can’t insist you see it. Even though at ten minutes in length if the premise does sound appealing, you don’t have to commit too much time.
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