A man in need of a train, but not the journey, has a problem!
Director : Vaughn Stein
Cast : Margot Robbie, Simon Pegg, Dexter Fletcher, Max Irons and Mike Myers
So a few months ago I started working at a new cinema chain and normally before a film they will obviously show trailers, with the occasional “from the red carpet” collection of interviews for an upcoming film. In one of these they focused on “Christopher Robin”, with a casual mention and clip from “Terminal” and it instantly peaked my interest.
It was made a reasonably big deal out of considering the movie was otherwise completely unadvertised, and then not only did my chain not show it at any of the various locations, but no other big chains did either (for reference for my non-UK viewers, the big chains are Odeon, Cineworld, Empire, Vue, Picturehouse, Everyman and Showcase, I’m not going to reveal which of those I work for). Infact, on the opening week only a single cinema in the entire UK was showing it, and during the four weeks it was out only twelve cinemas around the entirety of Britain broadcast it.
What made a lack of distribution even more surprising given the cast was that it was released on DVD less than a month after that cinema release date. As I didn’t have the chance to watch it when it was on the big screen, I jumped at the chance when payday came around and here we are.
I love the look of the film, but have heard mixed reviews about the actual storyline, so I hope it turns out to be a rare example of style and substance meshing, rather than the latter being distinctively absent.
Annie (Robbie) wants exclusivity for criminal contracts but is informed that two other offers have come in. She promises to deliver the other offerees dead at the man’s feet, or failing that he can kill her. One night she meets Bill (Pegg), a teacher who is struggling to kill himself to end his terminal illness, something that fascinates the morbidly curious Annie.
Meanwhile, Vince (Fletcher) and Alfred (Irons) have been waiting for two weeks to get their latest assignment through. It finally arrives when they enter a cafe, but Vince makes the mistake of not revealing the mission in a quiet manner, especially as Annie is nearby.
Despite all this, is another party pulling the strings in the background?
So should it have got a wider audience and were the largely negative reviews justified?
I can definitely see why a lot of people wouldn’t like this movie. It is slow, often seems a bit directionless and the pay-off might not seem like it was worth 95 minutes of your time, it is a movie that would divide audiences into a firm “like” or “dislike” camp. It doesn’t help that there is a very familiar feel to it, but for me I am definitely leaning more towards the “like” side of the argument.
Now I will stress that had I watched this at the cinema then chances are I wouldn’t feel the same way I have done having seen it on DVD first. It is a movie that you need a lot of patience for as it takes a while to really get into and no amount of witty dialogue can change that. The third act also seems to drag, especially as it starts baring a strong thematic resemblance to the 2006 movie “Lucky Number Slevin” and the twist that brings everything together, but there is definitely a sense of nothing original about the story.
Another scene reminded me of the general plot of the excellent “Suicide Theory”, in which they are discussing ways for Bill to get himself killed, including him actually hiring an assassin to take him out when he isn’t expecting it, which is quite literally the plot of that movie. I’m not saying that it copied it, afterall it would be a bit odd if it did given how little known that movie is, but there is definitely something familiar about everything.
All of that being said, as I say I did actually like the movie overall. I’m a sucker for neo-noir style films and this delivers it in abundance, especially with the plethora of neon signs used within. Visually the film is excellent and this is coupled with a soundtrack that aids to the eerie nature at times, as well as the dark and macabre aspects in others.
The cast all deliver, with Robbie in particular standing out as she completely drops her natural Australian accent and gives an unusual concoction of London-esque tilts to her vocals, similar (in terms of difference to her natural voice) to the accent she used in “Wolf on Wall Street”. This is actually a role that she is made for as it allows her to display a great acting range, flex her comedic chops and use her sexuality to a great effect. There isn’t a single cast member that doesn’t do what they are supposed to do without seeming ease.
I’d say give it a watch, it’s only 95 minutes of your life afterall, but be prepared for a film that might not be as great as the look makes it seem.
This is a bit of a generous “approved” stamp but there are more positives than negatives based on what I like. There is a lack of originality in the film, but the dialogue, look and acting certainly saves the movie, and based on that I can’t justify not recommending it. It has more positives than negatives….just.
Robbie is the clear standout, but Fletcher and Pegg are both equally as enjoyable in their roles, especially the latter due to the conflicted nature of his character and what is eventually revealed about him.
Don’t go in expecting brilliance, but it isn’t quite as bad as some reviews have made out.