Released: 2011
Director: John Langridge

Starring: Martin Compston, Craig Conway, Kierston Wareing, Sean Pertwee


There’s no such thing as a simple plan…

Since attending the Raindance Film Festival I’ve started to become a lot more interested in independent, low-budget British film-making.  Much as I love the Colin Firth/Hugh Grant movies that seem to make up much of the successful UK output I’m looking forward to getting to know more of the kind of smaller British output that doesn’t attract the same publicity as the big name releases.  I was really pleased when Blue Dolphin let me know about their current release Four, a thriller about revenge.

A jealous husband arranges for a private detective to kidnap his wife’s lover.  The plan is simple – rough him up a little, slap him around a bit and scare him off a lot.  The detective has also abducted the unfaithful wife in order to allow the husband to really let his message hit home.  The wife however is no simpering victim and has her own plans about how to end the situation.

Watching the beginning of Four I was reminded a lot of another recent British kidnap drama, Victims.  The small cast and dark warehouse setting are characteristic of both films, as is the revenge motivation of the perpetrators and the ambiguous nature of the “victims”.  The two movies however are very different in both style and substance.  Four is a more polished production and the acting is much stronger but ultimately isn’t quite as satisfying.

The acting in Four is very strong.  The film completely belonged to Sean Pertwee as The Detective, a psychotic individual playing a dangerous game.  He exudes charm, danger and menace throughout and unexpectedly great comic timing when called for.  Craig Conway as The Husband grew on me as the film progressed.  His growing confusion as he loses control of the situation is great.  He convincingly portrays an ordinary man dragged into circumstances which he can’t understand.

Kierston Wareing is also very strong as The Wife who refuses to respond in the way we would expect of her.  To say that Martin Compston as The Lover was the weakest of the cast would be a little unfair but he didn’t impress as much as the other three – this is a consequence of his being the least rounded character rather than any deficiencies on the part of the actor.

By no means a comedy, Four nonetheless had a surprising number of comic moments.  My favourite being an early exchange centered on Jack Nicholson’s famous “Here’s Johnny” line from The Shining.  The occasional bursts of humour offered welcome relief in a film which was overwhelmingly dark with some brutal violence.

Four was an enjoyable watch but as all of the characters were fairly detestable it was hard to care too much or become emotionally involved with the situation.  The most sympathetic character should have been The Wife and I wanted to like her a lot, but her feisty nature and toughness too often tipped over into an unattractiveness hardness that lessened my compassion for her.  In the end, and probably against all the intentions of the makers, I really quite liked The Detective.  He was cruel, violent and vindictive but Pertwee has a charisma which belies his character’s unappealing qualities.

The film started very well, with a tight script, compelling narrative and strong performances however the screenwriter seemed unsure of how to continue the story and I was slightly disappointed in the ending.  One of the plot twists was obvious from the start, others however came as a complete surprise but ultimately the conclusion didn’t satisfy.  The plot, if not the violence, simply ran out of steam.

For those looking for a new British thriller, something a little different from the usual multiplex fare this is a decent – if not classic – way to pass the time.  I look forward to seeing more from Oh My Productions and everyone involved in the film.

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