Jan 20, 2024
Mockumentary George is quietly a smart, insightful short which follows its eponymous subject as he is freshly released from the clink, offering an amusing critique of the prison and rehabilitation system with a light touch.
When a documentary team receives only one response to their requests to recently released prisoners, they spend a day following him as he navigates his new liberty. However, George (writer and director Jack Sambrook) seems to have learnt little from his time inside, reverting to his old ways of drug-dealing, drinking and unemployment. Though he believes he can easily slot back into his previous life, the world has changed around him – with unexpected consequences…
Using its faux-documentary format, George manages to both entertain and provoke with its tale of a reprimanded young man who seems to have learnt or benefitted little from a system that is designed to act in a self-fulfilling cycle. George as the protagonist is quite clearly someone who takes limited interest in improving his life or living within the law, but as the film demonstrates, it seems that there is little effort being made to ensure he does so anyway. By framing the film through a ‘documentarian’s’ lenses, the viewer feels an intimate connection with the ‘subject’ – seeing that his life is allowed to drift without any significant direction. The viewer spends most of the film anticipating George’s re-arrest – effectively questioning what the whole point of the prison system is meant to be.
Jack Sambrook impressively realises George – capturing a sense that despite his eccentricities, he is not a bad person at heart. George as a ‘subject’ rather than a protagonist allows the viewer to take on the ‘observer’ role that the documentary team present. Sambrook cleverly utilises this to leave a sense of uncertainty around George’s nature; sometimes presenting as mildly threatening and other times as wholesome and welcoming. It makes the viewer question their own perception of criminals and former prisoners, even as we witness George committing petty crimes.
The plot does meander at points – though this is likely an intentional choice on behalf of the filmmakers to show George’s purposeless and drift. A shocking twist at the film’s conclusion is also somewhat out of sync with the film’s message, but is in line with the dark humour woven throughout the story.
George leaves enough of an impression to make its audience ask questions of its setting and subject without making grandiose or dramatic statements. A shorter runtime, humour and absurd conclusion soften its critical edges somewhat, but there’s significant depth and thought in Sambrook’s film.