STILL – Movie Review (UK/TBC/97mins)
Directed by Simon Blake. Starring Aidan Gillen, Amanda Mealing, Elodie Young, Sonny Green, Joseph Duffy.
THE PLOT: When Tom (Aidan Gillen) brushes past a London teenager on the street, it sets off a chain of ugly and violent events, shattering the calm of Tom’s life, and brining back painful memories of his past.
THE VERDICT: STILL, directed by Simon Blake in his feature debut, is the examination of grief and the after effects of death a year on. The film also examines the choices made my characters when they are seemingly unaware of the consequences of their actions.
Aidan Gillen does well in the lead role, swinging from warm and sympathetic, to frazzled, to sociopath throughout the film. There are times when the character’s choices are infuriating, but this is the same for the rest of the cast, and comes down to the writing, rather than the performances. Jonathan Slinger plays Tom’s best friend Ed, and the two have comfortable and funny chemistry on screen. Amanda Mealing brings strength and grace to the film as Tom’s former wife Rachel, and Elodie Young has a smaller role as Tom’s current girlfriend who gets caught in the crossfire between Tom and a gang of London teenagers. The kids, played by Sonny Green and Joseph Duffy, do well in their very different roles; Duffy has strong chemistry with Gillen, and Green plays a bravado filled kid well.
The story, written by Simon Blake, begins through a chance encounter, which leads to increasing acts of violence and retaliation through the film. It is difficult to believe that a simple moment would lead to such extreme behaviour, but Blake almost always makes the actions of both the youths and the adults believable. The trouble is that the two stories of grief and violence never quite stitch together properly, so while the film is beautifully shot, giving Still a noir-esque feel, the whole doesn’t feel as though it is a sum of all of its parts.
The film rambles through grief, betrayal and old wounds opening to cause friction and pain, while adding in the elements of cruelty and violence from the gang of teenagers. Things seem to escalate too quickly and too violently to be believable, and the climax of the film only manages to destroy any empathy the audience has for Tom, while being incredibly and overly dramatic.
In all, STILL is a beautifully shot film that tries to do too much in its 97 minute running time. The subplots never quite stitch together, and the actions of the characters are often frustrating, although there is strong chemistry between Gillen and his co-stars, this is not enough to carry the film, which turns from drama to melodrama in the blink of an eye.
Review by Brogen Hayes

Review by Brogen Hayes
2.0Often frustrating
  • filmbuff2011

    Simon Blake makes his directorial debut with Still, a gritty London-set character piece bolstered by a sterling performance from Aidan Gillen. Carver (Gillen) is a man used to living on the edge. A photographer prone to bouts of alcoholism, Carver lost his son a year ago to a hit-and-run incident. He drifts in and out of relationships and is now living with the glamourous Christina (Elodie Yung), a decent younger woman he frankly doesn’t deserve. A chance run-in with hostile youth Carl (Sonny Green) who he ticks off sets him on a collision course with fate. He soon receives intimidating notes and has some nasty pranks played on him. That is, until Christina is targeted. But in order to find resolution and hopefully peace in his life, Carver may have to face up to some hard-hitting facts about not only himself but also the reasons why his son died… Made independently on an estimated budget of £500,000, Still is an at-times impressive, at-times uncertain film. Carver isn’t the most likeable of characters, but it’s a meaty role that Gillen tackles with his customary skill. He keeps the film watchable, even when it’s almost unwatchable. In the hands of a lesser actor, Carver would become the kind of character you just want to reach into the screen to give him a shake and tell him to wake up to what’s going on around him. With Gillen, Carver’s disintegration is more credible and gradual. Blake loses his footing at times, particularly with some supporting characters that don’t real add much to the story, such as Ed (Jonathan Slinger). However, Still does succeed overall as an impressive first feature. Tough viewing, but still worth seeking out. ***