Apr 25, 2023
Brian Bowell, Nathan Bryon, Holli Dempsey, Laura June Hudson, Hilary Tones
NEW TO UK FILM REVIEW
Critics Chris Olson and Brian Penn host UK Film Club - a new film podcast covering all film types. From blockbusters to old favourites and even indie & shorts.
An eccentric tale of dimly lit car park drugs deals and wild parties, ‘Ecstasy’ packs a whole a lot more heart than your traditional drug-infused picture, and develops into a heart achingly beautiful film not without a few rough edges.
Grant Taylor’s ‘Ecstasy’ isn’t your typical drugged up comedy. For a start its two central protagonists are Kristian (Nathan Bryon) and Ian (Brian Bowell), a father and son duo. Secondly, Kristian is a primary teacher (okay, similar to Phil in ‘The Hangover’ trilogy) and Ian is suffering, to a severe extent, from Parkinson’s disease. What at first appears to be a fun, ‘old-people/person’ does crime film in the vein of ‘Going in Style’, instead emerges into a beautiful picture of a man desperate to reclaim a part of his lost youth, but only after the whole business with the drugs has finished, which happens to take up the bulk of the film.
Ian arranges the drug deal, unbeknownst to Kristian, who finds himself surprised when they arrive at an abandoned car park, as the time frustratingly shifts from day to night in a jarring plot inconsistency. He finds himself even more surprised when confronted with the dealers, the crazy loud-mouthed Gary (Holli Dempsey) and the geriatric Granny Mo (Laura June Hudson), who are initially funny, but soon become draining, as the poor writing comes to fruition. The writing is too exaggerated, forcing the actors to overact, and resulting in lacklustre performances, particularly that of Bryon, who perhaps could have had a more effective role writing the script himself given his work on the charming ‘Rye Lane’.
Though his screenplay may be lacking, Taylor’s direction is impressive, guiding the camera effortlessly and making the most out of a no doubt small production budget to create a film which feels cinematic. Taylor imbues the film with a personal feel that makes up for some its flaws, and carries over some of the rough bumps in the screenplay.
Parkinson’s is a disease which we continue to know incredibly little about, and which continues to be incurable. Although awareness of the condition is growing, with the help of figures such as Michael J. Fox, it is nonetheless life-changing for millions, and will continue to cause problems amongst an ageing population. ‘Ecstasy’, with the deeply personal connection that director Grant Taylor has to the disease through his father, who has suffered from it since 1997 and appears in the film, understands how the disease can rob people of the little things that count towards what we consider to be normal everyday life, and how that can amount to an overall detrimental and demotivating impact on not just that persons life, but the life of those around them.
On paper a lighthearted drug-fest, ‘Ecstasy’ contradicts its name and offers a painfully beautiful tale of love, family, and the importance of life. Grant Taylor’s direction and the personal touch with which he has created the film with elevate ‘Ecstasy’ past its rough moments, and ensures that by its conclusion you’d be hard pressed to find someone with dry eyes.