Welcome to None's film reviews page. None has written 2 reviews and rated 171 films.
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The Page Turner is a “vengeance” film, in fact if there is anyone in your life you feel like reeking revenge on, recommend this film to them, sit back and revel in the smug satisfaction that you have wasted a good two hours of their life.
A young and promising pianist is taken to an audition by her mother. The film implies that this is an important audition although it's never said. All is going swimmingly, to the obvious glee of a table full of judges in the room, who mutter to each other and nod their heads approvingly. But it all goes pear-shaped, when she looses concentration, stops playing for no obvious reason at all and then does a “Les Dawson” for the remainder of the piece, hitting bum notes while the panel of judges scowl and shake their heads.
The reason she mucks her performance up, you ask? Well, one of audition judges, a famous pianist herself, silently signs an autograph during the girls performance after being pestered by a fan. Not the worst thing in the world to do but, hey, it doesn't take much to set this girl off who mopes out of the audition, slamming a piano lid down on some innocent bystander's fingers, goes home, locks up her own piano for good, vowing to reek revenge.
A ridiculous premise, you might think, not really the judge's fault and if that's all it takes to make her freak out while performing, I would guess that she wouldn't get too far in a career as a concert pianist anyway. Well ridiculous it may be, that's nothing on what's to come.
A decade later and she's still not got over it, even though she's grown up and could get any job she likes on looks alone, she seeks out the piano judge who “wrecked her life” in order to even the score (no pun intended) with acts of terror. When I say terror, if you consider persuading someone's son to practice the piano too much until they get a minor ache in their wrist terrible. Oh yeah, and she follows up this devastating blow with the witheringly devious plan to not to turn up for a performance as a page turner so the pianist just has to get someone else to do it instead. Oh no !
The final act of “bitter revenge” is achieved by implying to the judge's husband that his wife “may” have lesbian tenancies. No affair takes place, the implication itself is pretty vague, just a letter saying “I love you, you've changed my life”. For crying out loud, I don't know why they didn't just replace all of the acts of vengeance in this film with a scene where the girl gives the judge a chinese burn.
Most of the “meticulously planed” acts within the story are purely circumstantial. Getting the job with the Judge, happens through a fluke conversation. Getting picked as her page turner at performances is even more of an accident. Even the implied “relationship”, if you can call holding hands by accident a relationship, could easily not have ever happened if the judge had not had any homosexual leanings, which she may well not have, its so vague you can't really tell. The vengeance carried out seems unintentionally blundered and accidental, mostly ending up targeting people who have nothing at all to do with her predicament, hardly what you would expect from girl bent on a ten year vendetta?
All of this “mayhem” is accompanied by a dialogue of long drawn out silences, meaningful glances, sighing and the odd wistful tear. The camera work and soundtrack are as forgettable as the story and the acting. Turn away now if you don't want me to spoil the ending, but the whole thing climaxes with the judge fainting, that's it, credits roll !
No doubt some people will read this and say that I'm a philistine and I just didn't get the emotion, the underlying message or the beauty of the performance etc. To them, I would say that this is the exactly the sort of boring, pompous dross that turns people away from art house or indie film. Oh and I didn't like “Lost In Translation” either, but you probably would have guessed that.
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Shane Meadows and Paul Fraser create a genuinely believable and turbulent ride through British working class, family life through the eyes of two childhood friends growing up in the Midlands. Shane, if you haven't heard of him already, is currently enjoying massive acclaim for his most recent film “This is England”.
The complex hews of human personality, relationships and the fragile psychology that binds them all together, is explored at depth in “A Room for Romeo Brass”. For the most part, the portrayal of the characters feels familiar and realistic but never clichéd. The accomplished cast and script have allowed Meadows to reveal the light and sometimes shockingly, dark sides of his characters. This is a world of rough edges, trust and betrayal, tears and laughter.
While being no 'Fly on the wall', shaky camera 'drama doc', this film does, at times, feel real enough that you may find yourself thinking, “I used to know someone exactly like that”. There is no doubt that Shane and Paul probably knew people “just like that” and this makes the film ever more enthralling for that.
Special mention should go to the brilliant Paddy Considine and his portrayal of Morell, the inept, loner, friend and protector (?) of the two main protagonists. In him, Meadows paints a picture of the classic 'Peter Pan Syndrome' afflicted man. Apparently tormented by his past and unable to grow up, he swerves dangerously between 'puppy dog' lovableness, obsession, anger and manipulative narcissism with the deluded belief that he is beyond society's laws. You can't help feeling sorry for the vulnerable Morell, but then, isn't that the bait that many people like him purposely lay.
The soundtrack by The Specials, Beck, Ian Brown and Beth Orton amongst others, can't be faulted although personally, I'm not a huge fan of Meadows long, dialogue free montages, employing the best part of a whole three minute track running in the background. To me this use of music breaks the flow of a film but, having said that, Shane seems to like it as its a technique since this style appears in all of his films I've watched so far.
A Room For Romeo Brass is not for everyone. If you like your films to have a definitive start and end, a story where you know who all the good and bad guys are from the start, where all loose ends are neatly tied up before the credits roll then you may be bored or even disappointed watching this. The film is about relationships and people more than story. The language is strong and some scenes are gritty and violent, this may make them uncomfortable to watch if your experience of life has been somewhat sheltered. Nothing is gratuitous or unnecessary, there is little or no sex/nudity but if you are into fantasy and escapism rather than reality, nothing wrong with that by the way, then this may not be the place to look.
As a director, Shane Meadows follows in the footsteps of Mike Leigh and Ken Loach. He is a spark of hope for a British Film Industry that, for too long now, has been churning out cookie cutter, US Anglophile friendly period dramas and quirky romantic comedy's. A Room For Romeo Brass was a criminally overlooked film even though it was nominated for the Best British Independent Film Award in 1999 . Dead Man's Shoes ,again staring an older and more experienced Considine, is often described as Meadows' finest film. If this is true then 'A Room For Romeo Brass' comes a very close second.
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