Directed by Marcus Flemmings & Haider Zafar
Starring Haider Zafar, Daniella Down, Anna Leong Brophy & Michael Keane
Indie film review by Chris Olson
Madcap dark comedy The Conversations is the zany love child of filmmakers Marcus Flemmings and Haider Zafar that takes a boy-loses-girl story and delivers it with incredible freshness, biting comedy, and poignant melancholy.
Dentist-cum-Stand-Up-Comedian Al (Zafar) has his heart broken in the opening moments of this indie film, when his American girlfriend Ellie (Daniella Down) ends their relationship after some banter and snacks. Al’s coping mechanism seems to be replaying the events of their courtship blended in with bizarre, Mighty Boosh-esque sequences that transcend linear storytelling and deliver abstract commentary on the nature of love and loss.
Punctuated with stand-up routines and endless repartee, there is a clear passion for comedy in The Conversations, which benefits from a sharp script and inexhaustible enthusiasm. Utterly bizarre references are thrown in with reckless abandon which, instead of spoiling the flow, perfectly complement the tone of Al’s suffering and his loosening grip on his identity and reality. Furthermore, the comedy is never left long enough to curdle, instead balanced with emotional depth and poignancy which are arguably the stronger moments of the movie. Some of the science fiction tropes which are lobbed in have a levity and enjoyable lightness, but add little to the punch behind the film's themes and main plot.
A couple of scenes are let down with some wooden acting and the supporting characters are left quite underdeveloped but one has to enter The Conversations as a very much one-sided discussion. This is an introspective exploration of emotional ruin that splashes human foibles like a scattergun with endless ammunition. Also, there are some fantastically amateurish special effects like a ray gun and a rainfall of golf tees which need to be seen to be believed.
The structure of the film is slightly irksome, patched together like a BBC3 sketch show that plays heavily on an audience’s short attention span, opting for a smorgasbord of locales and characters instead of developing the ones already established. However, the aforementioned balance of jokes and emosh is maintained enough that you feel connected to Al’s journey and want to see its conclusion. Zafar's performance remains steady to the end, coping well with the tumultuous instability of his character as well as the comical scenes.
With a very funny script and equally sorrowful depth to the scenes, The Conversations is a beautifully tragic depiction of a break-up, one to be celebrated if only for revelling in the bizarre quirks that come with one.