Directed by: #BrettChapman
Written by: #JamesPhillips
The Good Book is the first production from the Leeds People’s Theatre Company, a new company created by Slung Low in Holbeck. The Leeds People’s Theatre Company is described as being “a dedicated division for large-scale professional arts projects with communities at the heart of them.” This film is indicative of that ethos and serves as a promising start for such a young, community-based venture.
Sometime in the near future, a dystopian Britain is split between loyalists of its powerful ruler, Queen Bear, and the followers of Galahad, a radical terrorist cell. Avalon (Riana Duce), a young woman with no particular love of either group, finds herself caught bang in the middle of a burgeoning civil war as she hurries to save a priceless artefact from the past.
The Good Book features a whole host of unique and colourful characters, in both the central and supporting roles. And while this is great to see, it’s also where we find our first issues with the movie. Put simply, there’s a considerable lack of context here. There’s no reasoning behind this escalating conflict, and so, no reasoning behind any of the characters’ political stances. This is quite an oversight. And, while time restraints can obviously impact on a filmmakers ability to do this sort of thing properly, I do feel that with more concise writing, this was possible. Having said that the performances were incredibly solid from across the board and were a delight to watch from beginning to end.
The near-future dystopian look the filmmakers have opted for, and which was portrayed so brilliantly in Children of Men, works so well here. It’s relatively inexpensive to implement, which is great for a movie made on a tight budget. But it’s also a really effective way to impart upon a film a gritty and grounded atmosphere. This, paired with a superb score from Heather Fenoughty, results in an experience that feels all too close to home. Particularly in today’s political climate.
While there are definite problems here (chief among them is a confusing finale and lack of context to the issues at hand), there’s a lot to admire in The Good Book. For instance, the filmmakers made sure to identify their limitations and have instead used them advantageously, making this a well-crafted piece of socio-political filmmaking. This takes a lot of nous, and for a first-time production, it’s a promising sign of things to come. It’s always lovely to see community projects like this come together so well. And from May 1st, when the film releases, you’ll be able to see it too.