Foreign Objects travels the world of international cinema each week to look for films worth visiting. So renew your passport and get your shots, because this week we’re heading to…
“I prefer my comedy black, like my men.” You know who said that? Our own Cole Abaius, and I couldn’t agree more (about the comedy). We all love to laugh, but there’s something delicious about laughing at the morbid and uncomfortable misfortunes of characters who can’t seem to catch a break. Whether it be due to bad luck or poor decision making skills, misery can quite often lead to some entertaining and darkly humorous films. Heathers, After Hours, and Happiness are a few of the best dark comedies around, but Hollywood isn’t the only place filled with death-tinged laughter…
Mark (Mark Doherty) is having a bad day. Several of them actually. He’s behind on the rent and has to dodge his foul landlord when he leaves his flat. The flat itself is falling apart since the owner won’t do repairs if the rent’s not paid. His career as an actor is non-existent, and his most recent audition doesn’t appear to have gone any better than usual. His brother is a paraplegic in a wheelchair. His girlfriend sleeps in a different room, and is one argument away from leaving him (and that argument occurs about fifteen minutes into the movie). Seriously, things are not going too well for the guy. His best friend, Pierce (Dylan Moran), lives in the same building and also has to dodge the landlord because he refuses to pay rent in solidarity with Mark’s plight. He may also have a slight problem with addictions. The only bright spot in the whole place is their dog.
The dog dies first.
It’s an accident of course, but it’s only the beginning as Mark finds himself stranded at the intersection of chance and incredibly bad luck. It seems the flat was built by Rube Goldberg’s amateur but evil twin brother, and innocent fixtures like chandeliers, shelves, and windows become harbingers of death. Pierce’s sad attempts to help only complicate issues further and soon the pair are beyond any hope of escape. Or are they?
A Film With Me In It is the kind of dark comedy we seldom see anymore. People are dying, and we’re meant to laugh along with misfortune. Mark is at the end of rope, but instead of going the Better Off Dead route and trying to off himself he’s forced to endure multiple deaths around him for which he bears some of the blame. He’s already a depressed (and depressing) character, but as the bodies start dropping he becomes even more of an unbearable Eeyore. And that character is where the film loses some appeal.
Thankfully, Mark is only one half of the lead characters here. Pierce, as played by Moran, is wonderfully dry and unexpectedly funny. The movie has very few laugh-out-loud bits, but the ones that are here belong to him. An AA meeting is our first real introduction to Pierce, and as others announce their names and their status as alcoholics he provides a different take on that tradition that gets to the core of his character.
My name’s Pierce. I’m a writer stroke director and a waiter. Right? And uh… and uh I have in the past, as I’m sure some of you have, been drinking, drinking, certainly drinking, a lot of no getting away, and uh thought this is too much this is too too many drinks at the same in the same time frame, and alcohol has been a part of that, and certainly the pub, and I have thought on occasion that this is the kind of thing an alcoholic does.”
You can see how he’ll be absolutely zero help in Mark’s particular situation. Doherty also wrote the film and appears to have given all the best bits to Moran’s character leaving his own with little to do but mope and attempt to find excuses. It’s a shame because the movie works pretty well when Pierce is on-screen babbling and working on solutions to their predicament. The film seems to slow down considerably in his absence.
Doherty and director Ian Fitzgibbon start with a solid idea but don’t manage to play it for all it’s worth. Structuring it around aspiring film-makers is a risky move because it makes things somewhat predictable at times. It also provides the possibility for a cheap ending, but at least there they manage to avoid the expected cheat. The end works fairly well and still manages to play by the rules set forth throughout, but it’s not enough of a reward for some of the slower, unfunny stretches that fill the movie.
A Film With Me In It is worth a watch for fans of Moran or even for folks who haven’t seen him before. Although if that’s the case then it means you haven’t seen Shaun of the Dead. And if you haven’t then that’s the dark, British comedy you need to go find and watch first. Then watch it a second time. Then maybe give this flick a try.
The Upside: Some pitch black comedy is always a good thing; Dylan Moran’s a funny guy and saves every scene he’s in
The Downside: Laughs are inconsistent; uneven pace; lead character is too unlikable
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