Pablo Behrens has expanded the scope of Colin Wilson's novel, adding the element of Free Cinema, the early fifties documentary movement, which prefigured the better known British New Wave. This is a neat move as it allows Behrens to do three things at once: use the 'Free Cinema' documentary techniques to frame the film, 'beef up' the narrative in a historical manner and neatly telescope the story of 'Free Cinema' itself into the film. Behrens convincingly recreates three Free Cinema documentaries: 'Nice Time' (Goretta and Tanner), 'Momma Don't Allow (Reisz and Richardson) and the more famous 'March to Aldermaston' (Anderson and Reisz) and the link to Wilson's original narrative is seamless and rather like Paul Schrader's version of Ian McEwan's 'The Comfort of Strangers', adds to rather than detracts from the original. The two male leads, inevitably, given Wilson's bias towards male characters, take up most of the viewer's attention, though both Caitlin Harris (as Doreen) and especially Emily Seale-Jones (as Jo), give feisty and reasonably nuanced performances. Seale-Jones' character has more to play with than Harris' Doreen who, a little formulaically, falls for Preston in the end. Harry Preston, a reserved, watchful and naive character is engagingly played by Owen Drake. Drake is watchable as the viewer's observer of other people. Greatest praise, however, goes to Chris Wellington (Compton- Street) who gets the extremes of his character perfectly balanced. Compton-Street has to be attractive, charismatic, dangerous, melancholic, a rake and a philosopher, and Wellington gets all of that dead right. Behrens film has a few anachronisms but this is made up for by the general exuberance of the film, attractive editing and vivid cinematography (blood in the sink merging with Wellington's face, golden cobblestones alongside rippling water etc.). The film carries you through the lost world of fifties Soho and leaves you a bit rumpled but happy. Memorable and unusual.
Adrift in Soho
Adrift in Soho
London's Soho district, the Fifties. Through the eyes of a Bolex camera, a typewriter and some local lifers a group of friends set out to produce a revolution. Will they succeed? You bet.
June 15, 2020