Directed by: #FloraTennant
Written by: Flora Tennant
Mr Alan on Saturday Movie Review
Christopher Sherwood plays the titular Mr Alan (named as just Alan on IMDb, so it’s confusing whether his name is Alan or Mr Alan), a swimming instructor who spends the majority of his time on screen donning only a pair of yellow swim trunks. Whilst this level of exposure for a character may suggest an open soul, Mr Alan appears to be less comfortable with his own sense of self-worth, constantly trying to impress others with his body and behaviour.
A charming and barmy short film, Mr Alan on Saturday feels akin in tone to Wes Anderson movies but with distinctly British armbands.
During his day, Alan attends a christening in which he is to become a godfather. This all takes place in a small household bathroom (religious representative and all) and sets the decidedly baffling tone very well. There are short moments where we get reflection and introspection, such as Alan sitting down to chomp on a sandwich in the locker room or getting changed next to some other guy in his y-fronts, which persuade the audience to consider this character we are being presented with and what the events and his reaction to them mean.
The stylistic choices that writer and director Flora Tennant makes are curated well. Supermarket-style music accompanies the piece, offering a sense of triviality which is immediately disarming, whilst the use of vivid colour in many of the scenes have an almost childish appeal to them which perhaps reflect the central character’s sense of immaturity when it comes to “grown-up” stuff. This then gets cemented in a later scene involving Helen (Rose Wardle) who confronts Alan in his place of safety, challenging him to take a dive - ironically in front of a sign stating very clearly “No Diving”. This part of the movie has no cheesy music in the background and feels infinitely more serious for our man in the banana hammock.
Whilst Tennant creates a good rhythm and the form looks good, this swim feels leisurely and lacking conviction. The slow pace of the #shortfilm will likely result in a lot of switching off, and Alan’s social imbalance may very well go unnoticed if audiences are looking for something in the wrong direction. Some of the dialogue is also hard to hear due to the swimming pool locations being used.
A fun and mildly diverting backstroke of a film, the water is calm and tepid allowing for a decent character study to unfold. Just don’t expect any Michael Phelps level competitiveness.