Updated: Dec 10, 2020
Written & Directed by #PhilStubbs
You’re a harmless, well-meaning soul. Somewhat socially awkward maybe but, on the whole, you never put a foot wrong. You do though have one friend, who you’re endlessly loyal to. However, he’s reckless, irresponsible and can’t help but continually land himself in trouble. And, this time, he’s £10,000 in debt to a ruthless gangster. Welcome to the world of Flynn, the hapless but unlikely hero in writer-director Phil Stubbs’ enjoyable comedy-drama Last Chancers, impressively (and exquisitely) shot in 21 days with a budget of just £20,000.
On the back of a surprisingly successful first date with the charming Jen (Lisa Ronaghan), job-seeking Flynn (Ellis J. Wells) is all set for a night of Netflix and chill second time round. However, his would-be romantic evening gets off to a more than rocky start when down-at-heel Aiden (Harry Dyer) shows up with some grim news for Flynn. Not only is he in debt to the “biggest criminal in the county”, but Aiden has thoughtlessly roped in his oblivious best friend as the guarantor. Together, the cash-strapped, dippy duo have no option but to alternatively take up a "favour" for the infamous Poynter (Brian Croucher), which is bound to land them in even deeper trouble.
Shot like a drama, written as a comedy, Last Chancers is a hit-and-miss mixed bag which, at least, makes for an agreeable 78 minutes. Wells and Dyer work well enough together, even if their timing is occasionally off. Television veteran Croucher makes a welcome return to the screen as the local rogue terrorising the unlikely lads whilst Ronaghan manages to bring some warmth and maturity to the madness. The film’s real scene-stealer though is probably Emily Carding as the scary henchwoman Flynn and Aiden encounter during their escapades.
Stubbs’ script is somewhat uneven. Some gags and lines miss the beat. Others hit the chuckle mark more successfully, even if there's a tendency to use the F word a tad too often in place of a good punchline. Also, somewhat patchy in places is the film’s editing, although there’s plenty to admire in Richard Bertenshaw’s cinematography, arguably the highlight of the film.
Last Chancers is an oddity. A curious blend of comedy, drama and thriller, which fluctuates between each genre with mixed results. Yet, there’s enough quirkiness, tension and titters to ensure that Stubbs’ feature-length debut will be far from his last chance on the big screen.