Directed: Rupert Wyatt
Starring: Brian Cox, Liam Cunningham, Joseph Fiennes and Seu George
If you follow my reviews you will already know that I try my best never to give away any of the plot. In fact I try not to mention the actual story arc at all. I do this so you hopefully walk into the viewing experience with no pre-conception of what to expect. I also do it because I want you to only know that I enjoyed the film… This is a review not a synopsis.
This style of review, I believe, is perfectly suited for a film such as THE ESCAPIST. It is such an amazing piece of cinema that any reviewer who gives away even the smallest of plot devices should have his testicles removed with a serrated blade. This is a film that is not to be watched, but to be experienced… a personal journey between, director, writer, cast and audience.
I had never heard of the film THE ESCAPIST before I came across it on the previously viewed shelve in Blockbuster Video and I’ll be honest with you… the only reason I bought it was because it starred Liam Cunningham, an actor my lovely wife has a soft spot for.
Having now sat and watched it I can say that I’m more than happy for her to have a soft spot for him if it means I continue to purchase such outstanding movies.
At the start you may be tempted to turn away, thinking the style and form of the editing to be a little confusing. Well push those thoughts aside and allow yourself to fall into the way that WYATT has decided to showcase this multi-levelled tale. If you do you will not be disappointed.
It is very rare that the independent movie scene throws out such a polished gem of celluloid genius, utilising everything they have to create something that sits well alongside anything being produced by the big movie companies. THE ESCAPIST is one of those rarities.
I’ll start with the visual style and look of the film… It is gritty, grimy and so real that you can almost smell the sweat, the blood and the damp that oozes out of the walls. The washed out colour scheme adds to the hopelessness of the characters situation and, before even a word is uttered, you know that times are desperate indeed.
Nothing is wasted here, even the score is important, the pace of the simple music increasing in tempo as the story progresses, highlighting the sense of importance.
Then we have the characters, the first of which is the location. This place, in my opinion, has a personality all of its own, an oppressive nature that comes from its very being. It walks the line between reality and nightmare, placing the viewer in a very uncomfortable situation… This must be an intentional decision and it works on every level, complementing the visual style that WYATT has adopted.
The living characters live up to the surroundings they find themselves in, lead by Brian Cox in a performance that betters any he has done before. His character, Frank Perry, is one you truly feel for and, regardless of his past, you want to see him succeed.
**As a side note it must be said that this role was written from the start with Brian in mind**
The supporting cast are all as good, filling the story with sound, believable characters. We never know why any of them are here and it doesn’t matter. As only the great scripts can do we have no wasted time on histories… the characterisation is done purely through dialogue and actions. From these points alone the audience quickly realise who they should hate and who they should root for.
Everything about THE ESCAPIST is so well crafted and it is obvious that it was created by a group of people with a dedication and love to the industry. These are the people who will make the UK film industry strong again. I applaud them and wish them all the luck in the world and can’t wait to see what they deliver next time.