Dodgy Dave short film

★★★★

Directed by: #CharlotteRegan

Written by: Charlotte Regan

Starring: #NeilMaskell, #MitchellBrown

BFI London Film Festival Review by: #ChrisOlson


Dodgy Dave


Part of the #LFF2018 Dare thread, and being screened in their Keep It In The Family short films programme, Dodgy Dave, written and directed by Charlotte Regan, is a touching and charming comedy about a boy and his drug dealer dad.


Mitchell Brown plays the aforementioned boy, Danny, who accompanies his pop on an unorthodox take your son to work day when the paternal figure in question Dave (Neil Maskell) can't find anyone suitable to take responsibility. As Dave starts his errands of going door to door of his usual customers providing them with their narcotics, with Danny in tow, we see plenty of traditional family values being displayed, such as loyalty and connection, even if the surroundings are not your usual family friendly locales.


Presented in black and white and utilising some interesting camera work, Regan delivers a short that has plenty for the audience to chew on visually. The shots are smart and the editing is sharp, creating an overwhelming sense of professionalism to the production value. Why it is in black and white is not completely clear to me but I feel it has something to do with the classic notions and themes at play in the narrative. There are some wonderful moments for the viewer to enjoy in the aesthetic of the film, such as Dave listing off a couple of family members who could stand in as caregivers (one robs Sat-Navs and the other is a shoplifter) which has some wonderfully quick set pieces and editing, or a distance shot of Danny and Dave playing footy.


The performers are great, in particular Neil Maskell whose portrayal of Dodgy Dave is endearing. His charm and connection with drug users gets brilliantly juxtaposed with the awkward relationship he has with his own offspring. Maskell delivers this expertly and as the short evolves his deepening emotion towards Danny is played out brilliantly.


The use of location is really intelligent in Dodgy Dave, Regan makes the most of the largely isolated council housing. The result is an urban wonderland where the cliched grime and violence of the area is abandoned for a more picturesque journey with these two family members strolling through with (almost) no space invaders. As the tension releases and both Dave and Danny relax into a comfortable camaraderie, we are more invested in their future and remain exceedingly hopeful for their relationship.


An introspective and intriguing drama that mutes the colourful distractions of life to tell a story about an unconventional father-son relationship that is riddled with emotion and chemistry. Great performances and strong direction make this a fantastic addition to the 2018 #BFILondonFilmFestival.