Rent Set the Thames on Fire (2015)

3.3 of 5 from 74 ratings
1h 23min
Rent Set the Thames on Fire Online DVD & Blu-ray Rental
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Two boys fall through a grotesque, nightmare London, endeavouring to survive and escape, and perhaps find hope together in this dark comedy. Art (Michael Winder), a struggling piano player and Sal (Max Bennett), a compulsive liar, embark on a string of ludicrous escapades through a dystopian London ruled over by a grotesque and tyrannical Impresario (Gerard McDermott). On their adventures they encounter a deranged Magician (David Hoyle), an anarchist witch (Sally Phillips) and The Impresario's twisted right-hand man, Dickie (Noel Fielding), leading to a final showdown with the despotic ruler himself.
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Emma Comley, Sadie Frost
Al Joshua
Equal Distribution
Comedy, Sci-Fi & Fantasy
Release Date:
Run Time:
83 minutes
English Hard of Hearing
DVD Regions:
Region 2
Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen 2.35:1
  • Deleted Scenes:
  • Bloopers
  • Candy House
  • Dickie's Kitchen
  • Magician
  • Montage
  • Reeperbahn

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Reviews (1) of Set the Thames on Fire

A dark, seedy, funny, tragic fairy-tale - Set the Thames on Fire review by NP

Spoiler Alert

… in which Salvidor (Max Bennett) – ‘the pretty one’ – and Art (Michael Winder) – ‘the ugly one’ – meet up and decide to raise enough money to go to Egypt. On their way, they meet a variety of extreme and brilliantly played characters. Sadie Frost, Sally Philips and Noel Fielding (now co-host of family-friendly cookery shows, here playing a foul-mouthed sex-crazed cross-dresser) are exceptional in these roles. David Hoyle plays probably the most affecting of them all, a down-on-his luck, tired old magician. His character in particular represents what ‘Set the Thames on Fire’ is all about – extravagant and often hilarious superficiality hiding a pure, terminal melancholy.

To say this film is merely a ‘great experience’ is difficult, because the heart of it is difficult to pinpoint. It has been described as a tragicomedy, and uses its low-budget as an advantage, making deliberately dream-like locations and architecture with only one foot in reality.

It is sick, seedy and tragic – so how then, is it also so genuinely funny? A skilful balancing act on behalf of director and writer Ben Charles Edwards and Al Joshua, that’s how.

It reminds me in part of 1989’s extraordinary ‘Sante Sangre’ in its absurdist setting, with characters that seem inaccessibly strange, but that are in possession of real humility once we get to know them.

My score is 8 out of 10.

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