Directed by Philip Stainsby
Starring Patrick Doyle
Review by Chris Olson
Adorned with one of the greatest moustaches in recent cinema, Patrick Doyle delivers a phenomenal performance as a man on a mission across the urban chaos of Shanghai. He is an employee attempting to carry out a delivery task for his employer, only to be delayed by numerous forces working against him - most fearsome of all, his own introspective ramblings.
Doyle’s inner monologue provides most of the film’s dialogue, as he tries to remain in control of the situation and his own anxiety. Constantly assessing his situation and questioning every move, the atmosphere is laden with tension throughout the film, as well as being a shining example of excellent dark comedy.
The tension is vamped up by Philip Stainsby’s superb direction: adding a pulsating soundtrack, edgy cinematography, and stylish set pieces. The complex Shanghai cityscape is used with absolute splendour, capturing the essence of the story whilst adding the perfect companion to Doyle’s enigmatic performance.
It’s a psychological thriller that has a devilish sense of humour. There is a slight languishing in the pace, accompanied by Doyle’s near-solo screen time, but the overall effect of the film is not lost in this. If you keep with this employee’s inner dilemma, you will feel the strangeness start to rub off on you, sucking you into this bizarre and intriguing journey.
Indie films very often skimp on style in favour of a more specific goal (such a pyrotechnics or handycams). Rivalries takes a different approach, delivering an incredibly stylish film that has a powerhouse central performance, without resorting to gimmicks or distractions. Whilst the storyline will divide viewers in terms of overall pleasure, there is a genuine cohesiveness to Stainsby’s film, and filmmaking, that proves intent and shows true skill.