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What You Can't Promise (2021) Film Review


Directed by: #RichardFysh

Written by: #RichardFysh


When a mysterious woman turns up unexpectedly at an old country house, the new owner soon becomes uneasy in her presence, but also begins to find her strangely beguiling.

British indie filmmaker Richard Fysh directs and stars in this enigmatic, elusive feature film, which clocks in at just about an hour of screen time. Fysh prides himself on making quality films on a pre-owned shoestring budget, with What You Can’t Promise (2021) being his first feature, made in just a couple of days with no budget. It made its world premier in Buffalo, New York in November 2021 and became a semi-finalist at MonsterFlix Awards.

The film defies classification as one genre in particular, confining itself to a single location setting and featuring a combination of romance and supernatural horror elements. When a strangely forward, open-spoken woman, Ursula (Tauber), turns up at a reserved man’s house, claiming she had rented a room in the property, things already become suspicious as Gareth (Fysh) cannot recall his recently deceased father renting out rooms. From here, we are presented with a dialogue heavy film of the two leads exchanging casual conversations after Gareth reluctantly allows Ursula to stay the night. Fysh delivers a strong script, with carefully written dialogue which gradually reveals more about each character as these conversations continue.

What You Can't Promise (2021) film poster

The movie certainly succeeds with building an intriguing mystery surrounding the true identity of Ursula and what other intentions she may have for the bewildered Gareth, who cannot help but be drawn to her. Later revelations are subtly set up early on in the narrative, with Fysh demonstrating thoughtful, engaging direction throughout. Despite the fact that two performers are confined to one location and the film is mostly shot with a static camera, direction still remains diverse in the different camera angles used for each scene, offering various perspectives and investing our attention with the characters.

Both performances are spot on for the context of the screenplay, with Fysh embodying the confused everyman of Gereth convincingly. Maria Tauber as Ursula is the big star here, enacting small gestures and lines of dialogue with much flair and heightening the intrigue surrounding her character even more. Being an independent, no budget film does result in some noticeable issues, such as the inconsistencies in sound editing. This can become distracting as the script is so reliant on its dialogue and this heavy saturation in speech does have its benefits, but pacing can often become slow and some scenes do drag as a result.

Nevertheless, this small scale production deserves much admiration for its achievements in delivering a film with well conceived dialogue and two superb lead performances, distracting from other less praiseworthy technical elements and pacing problems.



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